Turkey approved the purchase of an initial two Lockheed Martin F-35s during a 5 January meeting of its Undersecretariat of Defence Industries (SSM), launching the start of its air force's next-generation fighter project.

"Turkey has been a member of the Joint Strike Fighter [JSF] project since 1999. According to the developments, SSM decided to order two F-35s which are planned to start delivery in 2015," the organisation said. "SSM will continue negotiating over the remaining aircraft according to developments in the JSF project."

Ankara plans to eventually buy 116 F-35A Lighting II aircraft to replace its McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantoms and Block 30-standard Lockheed F-16s.

Lockheed Martin F-35 JSF pair

 © Lockheed Martin

The SSM also approved an air force order for 10 Turkish Aerospace Industries Anka medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicles (development example pictured below) and three ground control stations. The Bell 429 has been selected for a 15-aircraft deal to replace Aerospatiale-built Alouette II helicopters flown by the Turkish police.

 Anka UAS - Turkish Aerospace Industries

© Turkish Aerospace Industries

Negotiations have also been launched with Turkey's Kale Aero Group to develop a turbojet engine for the Tubitak Sage-designed modular stand-off missile. The roughly 600kg (1,300lb) cruise missile design has been offered as a possible candidate weapon for the nation's F-35s.

Source: Flight International