Turkey has signed to join the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme during the concept demonstration phase and JSF partner Denmark has signalled its intention to extend its participation into the key follow-on engineering manufacturing development (EMD) phase.

The JSF programme office (JPO) confirms that Turkey signed a letter of agreement (LoA) on 16 June to become a partner. The office's international directorate plans to open talks within the next 45 days with the Turkish air force, to formalise its participation

Under the LoA, Turkey will pay $6.2 million to join as a Foreign Military Sales customer, rather than as a second-level full associate partner or third-tier observer. Its category is similar to that recently created for Singapore. As a fourth-level player, it will receive specific generic JSF data, along with modelling and simulation information, but will have no industrial role during the concept demonstration phase.

Turkey is the eighth nation to join the programme, which includes the UK as a full collaborative partner, associate partners Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, and observers Canada and Italy. Israel has also been briefed and is expected to decide shortly on whether it will join.

The Turkish air force has large numbers of McDonnell Douglas F-4s and locally assembled Lockheed Martin F-16s, which it will want to start to replace by 2010.

Denmark, in the meantime, has become one of the first international partners to commit publicly to extending its participation beyond the end of the current phase and into full EMD, due to start in 2001. Continued involvement in the JSF is considered to be one of the most significant political messages in Denmark's recently approved five-year defence plan, say officials.

The Danish air force is looking to the JSF as a possible replacement for its F-16A/Bs between 2010 and 2015. The plan also includes provision for four new transport aircraft to replace Denmark's three Lockheed Martin C-130Hs, which will be sold. The new C-130J is viewed as the most likely choice.

Other planned Danish acquisitions during the 2000-4 period include a new radar for F-16s in 2004, replacements for its eight Sikorsky S-61A search and rescue helicopter and five transport machines of the same type for the army, as well as two new maritime patrol aircraft to replace two Gulfstream IIIs. Additional Bombardier CL604 Challengers are considered the preferred choice. The air force operates two and has options on two.

Source: Flight International