EN TR

News

A Closer Look at the Turkish Defence Industry’s Fixed Wing Air Platforms Sector

by İbrahim SÜNNETÇİ

Contrary to general opinion Turkey began quite early to be active in manned aircraft production. The history of Turkish Aviation can be traced back to the 1920’s. Turkey’s first ever aircraft manufacturing facilities Tayyare Otomobil ve Motor Türk Anonim Şirketi (Turkish Aircraft, Automobile and Engine Company/TOMTAŞ) was established in 1925, only two years after the proclamation of the Turkish Republic, in Kayseri and production started in 1928. However, Turkey missed the manned aircraft train due to internal political disputes and the foreign military aid that began upon Turkey’s membership accession to NATO.  Turkey could have probably have been placed in the top10 manned aircraft manufacturers in the world in the1970s. Both stalled the development of local aviation industry, which was at its preliminary stage of formation at that time.

With the ‘Build Your Own Aircraft’ campaign, manned aircraft production in Turkey came to life again at the beginning of 1970s. For this purpose, on June 28, 1973 TUSAŞ (Turkish Aircraft Industries Incorporated Company) was established. However, after the Cyprus Peace Operation in 1974, the political and social problems prevented Turkey from building its own aircraft. In the early 1980s the Turkish Air Force (TurAF) started research to select its new combat aircraft and for this purpose a committee was founded in 1982. As a result of a comprehensive test and evaluation process the F-16 was chosen as the TurAF’s new combat fighter. For this purpose, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) Company, which is at that time was mainly responsible for the F-16 production/final assembly in Turkey, was founded on May 15, 1984 as a Joint Venture (JV). On June 25, 1985 TUSAŞ Engine Industries (TEI), a Turkish-American joint stock company, was also established to manufacture engine components and assemble F110-GE-100 engines for the TurAF F-16C/Ds. TEI’s factory was officially opened on June 10, 1987. 

The contract for the purchase of 160 F-16C/D Block-30 (34 C’s, 9 D’s) and Block 40 (102’Cs and 15 D’s) aircraft under the Peace Onyx-I (PO-I) Project for the TurAF was signed on December 9, 1983. The first eight aircraft were manufactured in the U.S. and the remaining 152 were manufactured/assembled at TAI facilities in Ankara, Turkey. Under the PO-I Program aircraft deliveries performed between the years 1987-1995 and TAI manufactured 70% of the airframe of the F-16 aircraft including aft, center fuselages and wings. TEI, on the other hand, performed the final assembly and testing of 176 F110-GE-100 engines under General Electric (GE) license and completed engine deliveries under PO-I in 1994. In March of 1992, a follow-on order for two batches of 40 F-16C/D Block 50s (68 C’s and 12 D’s) was placed under the Peace Onyx-II FMS Program. With the PO-II Program, the manufacturing percentage of TAI, as far as airframe is concerned, reached 80% with the addition of flaperons and the stuffing tasks for the forward fuselage to the airframe components were manufactured in the first Program. Meanwhile TEI completed PO-II engine deliveries in compliance with the program upon the delivery of the 95th F110-GE-129 engine in April 1998. Thus, the number of engines (F110-GE-100 and F110-GE-129 IPE) assembled and tested by TEI under PO-I and PO-II Programs reached 271 in total. TAI also awarded a contract to build 46 F-16C/D Block 40s (34 C’s and 12 D’s) for the Egyptian Air Force under the Peace Vector-IV Program and completed deliveries during 1993-1995. Among the 278 F-16 aircraft produced at TAI’s facilities for the TurAF and Egyptian Air Force, three were “Perfect” and 29 were with “Zero Defect.” On December 12, 2006, the Defence Industry Executive Committee (DIEC) decided on the procurement of 30 F-16 Advanced Block 50 (Block 50+) aircraft from the U.S. Government through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) under the Peace Onyx-IV (PO-IV) Program. In 2009 the United States and Turkey signed an FMS contract for 30 F-16 Block 50+ aircraft to be co-produced by TAI. According to the contract, the final assembly and delivery of the 30 F-16C/D Block 50+ (16 D’s and 14 C’s) aircraft were realized at TAI facilities in Ankara with 7 “Perfect” and 19 “Zero Defect” quality, while the engines were manufactured by TEI in Eskisehir. Under PO-IV, TEI carried out assembly and testing of 42 F110-GE-129B engines and completed deliveries in December 2010. Under PO-IV the first aircraft was accepted in May 2011 and the deliveries were completed in December 2012. So, during 1987 – 2012 TAI manufactured a total of 308 F-16C/Ds, while TEI assembled and tested a total of 313 F110-GE-100, F110-GE-129 IPE and F110-GE-129B turbofan engines during 1987 – 2010. 

In addition to manufacturing F-16C/Ds under license, during 1990-2018 TAI has also carried out a number of F-16 modernization programs including F-16C/Ds EW Upgrade performed during 1993-1999 on 148 aircraft, Falcon-UP Upgrade performed on 134 F-16s during the same period, Peace Onyx-III (covers 10 prototype aircraft) and F-16 Modernization Serial Assembly (MSM, covers 165 aircraft and performed during 2009-2015) of the TurAF F-16C/Ds. The company also carried out MLU Upgrade of Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF)’s 17 F-16A/Bs during 2006-2009 and MLU upgrade of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s 41 F-16A/Bs during 2009-2014. In addition to F-16s TAI also manufactured/assembled 50 CN235-100M light transport aircraft for the TurAF (February 1991 – August 1998), 34 SF-260Ds primary trainers (contract awarded in March 1990) for the TurAF, 28 AS532 Cougar helicopters (during 1998-2003) helicopter, and nine CN235-100M aircraft during July 1999 and January 2003 for theTurkish Navy (six) and the Turkish Coast Guard (three) under the MELTEM-I Project. Company also performed and launched a number of co-development/production (such as T129 ATAK and T70 Turkish Utility Helicopter Programs) and indigenous development (HürKuş, HürJet, TF-X and T625) Programs in the field of fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Today, known as Turkish Aerospace (Turkish Aerospace Industries [TAI] have been rebranded as Turkish Aerospace on July 11, 2018) the company has become Turkey’s center of technology in design, development, modernization, manufacturing, integration and life cycle support of integrated aerospace systems, from fixed and rotary wing air platforms to UAVs and satellites.

Many authorities accept that the foundation of Turkish Aerospace (TA) in May1984 was an important milestone in the development of Turkey’s indigenous capability to design, build and integrate military aircraft and engines; with the early days of manufacturing and assembling the F-16C/D aircraft in Turkey and TEI in January 1985, to the manufacture and assembly of General Electric F110-GE-100/129 jet engines, TAI and TEI have developed their capabilities over the years and have now begun participating in international military and civilian/commercial aerospace projects as well as their respective engine programs (TEI manufactures over 800 different parts/modules under 40 different engine programs), including F-35 JSF, A400M, TP400, Boeing 747-8, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, GEnx, LEAP and Airbus A350 XWB. TEI now carries out parts production and the assembly of turbofan, turbo-shaft and turboprop engines for military aircraft operated by TAF and NATO, working in collaboration with the Air Maintenance Factory Directorates.

As one of the largest air forces in the world, the Turkish Air Force (TurAF) currently has around 270 combat aircraft (including 238 F-16C/D [138 Block 30M and Block 40M, 71 Block 50M and 29 Blok 50+] and 31 to 32 F-4E 2020), 180 trainers (including 68 T-38M jet trainers and 16 NF-5A/B 2000 [10 NF-5A 2000 and 6 NF-5B 2000 in the Turkish Stars Acroteam inventory], 40 KT-1T, around 30 SF-260D and around 25 T-41D), and around 100 Transport/Support aircraft (including 6 A400M [+4 to be delivered], 4E-7T AEW&C aircraft, 19 C-130B/E Hercules [6 B and 13 E, undergoing avionics upgrade under ERCİYES Project], 10 C-160D [5 in transport, 3 in GÖREN ISR  configuration and 2 in MilKar-2U Electronic Warfare configuration], 49 CN235-100M [45 in Transport/Air Ambulance/Training role, 3 in SIGINT/ELINT configuration and 1 in Open Skies Agreement (ASA) configuration], 7 KC-135R Stratotanker) in its inventory. The TurAF currently operates 238 F-16C/D fighters (operating in 12 different Squadrons deployed at 7 different bases around Turkey), which form the TurAF’s leading edge, most of which have been modernized to the latest Block 50+ standards under the PO-III and F-16 MSM Programs. There are also some 32 upgraded F-4E 2020 Phantom II all-weather fighter-bombers (in 111th Squadron service located in 1st MJB and to be replaced by F-35As). Turkey, as a Level-III Partner in the JSF Program, will procure as many as 116 F-35A aircraft, which will provide a 5th generation stealth and long-range strike capability to the TurAF. As a modern, cutting edge air force, configured and trained to the highest Western/NATO standards, the TurAF is able to execute the full spectrum of air missions.

Aerospace Sector

Realizing 26.77% of the revenue and 51.2% of the total Defence exports in 2017, the aerospace (military and civil aviation) sector is the largest contributor in the Turkish Defence sector, having realized a total value of US$935 Million in military (US$393 Million) and civil (US$542 Million) aviation exports in 2017. This is a reflection of the expansion of overall trade with the European Union and NAFTA (Turkey mainly exports civil/commercial and military aircraft such as A400M and F-35 Lightning II JSF aircraft components and parts to EU countries and the U.S. under IP/O commitments). According to the Turkish Defence and Aerospace Industry 2017 Performance Report, prepared by the Defence Industrial Manufacturers Association (SaSaD) through the evaluation of figures obtained from 86-member companies and issued in May 2018, Turkey has realized exports valued at US$313 Million in civil aviation exports to the U.S., US$225 Million to Europe and US$4 Million in exports to other countries. In the field of military aviation Turkey has realized US$262 Million in exports to the U.S., US$105 to Europe and US$26 Million to other countries.

According to Turkish Defence and Aerospace Industry 2017 Performance Report, Turkish Aerospace Sector (military and civil aviation) has realized US$1.792 Billion (military aviation US$1.132 Million and civil aviation US$660 Million) of the turnover (represents 26.77% of the total turnover, US$6.693 Billion), around US$935 Million of the exports (represents 51.2% of the total exports, US$1.824 Billion), and around 46.3% (military aviation US$1.336 Billion and civil aviation US$2.392 Billion) of the order total (US$8.055 Billion) in 2017. With these figures the Turkish Aerospace Sector is likely the strongest sector of the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry. If we count only military aviation figures Turkish Land Platforms/Systems sector is likely the strongest sector of the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry. All estimates show that the Turkish Aerospace Sector will grow further in 2018.  

The backbone of the Turkish Aerospace Sector is formed by state-owned Turkish Armed Forces Foundation (TAFF) companies; Turkish Aerospace (TA) and TEI, which also contribute the lion’s share in turnover and export figures. With a Decree published on December 24, 2017 the TAFF companies, Turkey’s major Defence industry institutions, have been officially attached to the Turkish Presidency. According to figures disclosed by the companies, in 2017 TAI realized US$1.430 Billion in revenues (which represents 13.5% increase compared to 2016) and US$829 Million in export sales (represents 58% of the turnover), whereas TEI realized US$320 Million in revenues (80% from the sales of civil/commercial aircraft engine parts and 20% from the sales of military aircraft engine parts) of which US$268 Million was gained from exports and as of the end of 2017 its order total reached US$4.6 Billion. However, opportunities are also emerging for private companies such as Alp Aviation (a joint venture between the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation and the Alpata Group of Turkey), BNA (BAE Systems-Nurol Hava Sistemleri A.Ş./BAE Systems-Nurol Air Systems Inc.), Fokker Elmo, KaleKalıp/Kale Aero, Kale Pratt & Whitney Engine Industries, Baykar Makina and Vestel Defence Industry. 

Military factories of the Turkish Air Force (TuAF), such as 1st Air Supply and Maintenance Center Command in Eskisehir, and 2nd Air Supply and Maintenance Center Command in Kayseri have mainly taken roles in modernization projects such as the F-16C/D PO-III, F-16C/D Block 30 DB-100 Recce Pod Integration, F-16C/D Block 30 Structural Improvement, F-4E 2020, F-5 2000, F-4E/TM (ŞİMŞEK), RF-4E/TM (IŞIK), T-38M (ARI) and C-130B/E (ERCİYES)Programs, and are providing maintenance/overhaul services to the fighter/bomber and transport aircraft in the TurAF inventory. On the other hand, the 3rd Air Supply and Maintenance Command, located in Ankara, provides maintenance, repair and overhaul services for avionics and the land-based radar and missile systems which are in the service of the TuAF. It should be noted that as part of the restructure efforts that were launched following the bloody coup attempt, carried out by FETO on July 15, 2016, with an amendment made on the 1st Article of Law on Ministry of National Defence (MoND) military factories and shipyards have been removed from the structure of related Military Departments and General Staff organization and affiliated under the MoND. In this context Military Factories of the TurAF Command such as the 1st Air Supply Maintenance Center (ASMC) in Eskişehir, the 2nd ASMC in Kayseri and the 3rd ASMC in Ankara have been affiliated under the MoND General Directorate of Military Factories (AFGM) as of February 2017. In March 2017 the names of the ASMCs have been changed to the 1st Air Maintenance Factory Directorate (AMFD), the 2nd AMFD and the 3rd AMFD. With the State of Emergency Decree Law No. 696 issued on December 24, 2017 the Military Factory and Shipyard Management Incorporated Company (ASFAT AŞ) was established. In the Turkish Defence and Aerospace Industry 2017 Performance Report, the revenue of military factories and shipyards was estimated to be around US$650 Million.

Remarkable Programs and Products of the Turkish Aerospace Sector

A. F-35A Lightning II JSF Program

The Turkish Ministry of Defence (MoND) was an early advocate of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program, so Turkey has participated in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Program starting from Concept Demonstration Phase (CDP). In 1999 Turkey invested US$6.2 Million in the CDP of the JSF Program as a Level-IV Partner through Foreign Military Sales (FMS). The CDP was an intense four-year process during which both companies (Boeing and Lockheed Martin) built and flew several prototypes and competed in a final fly-off competition. As a CDP partner Turkey gained significant insight into the program concepts and requirements definition and participated in various capabilities modeling and simulation events. Included in these efforts was a life cycle cost control study, an important area of consideration for the TurAF that examined the changes to Air Force logistics that should be accomplished to support their JSF aircraft. The CDP was then followed by the System Development and Demonstration (SDD) Phase, which involves the development of the X-35 into the F-35 production aircraft.

As a Level-III Partner of the Program Turkey has committed US$175 Million to the F-35 JSF System Development and Demonstration (SDD) Phase, spread over 11 fiscal years from 2002 to 2012 under the agreement awarded on July 11, 2002. Thanks to its US$175 Million investment Turkey was able to share in the technological leaps that are a significant part of this phase. Meanwhile, Presidency of Defence Industries (as of July 10th, 2018 the name of Undersecretariat for Defence Industries [SSM] was changed into Presidency of Defence Industries [SSB]) has provided a total of US$75 Million in credit to local companies taking part in the F-35 SDD Phase to renew their production infrastructure for the JFS Program. 

Turkey confirmed its commitment to the F-35 JSF Program on January 25, 2007, with a MoU that will bring Turkey into the Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development Phase (PSFD) of the Program, and pledging around US$700 Million to aircraft production, and a further US$250 Million to support local industry taking part in the PSFD Phase. The Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development Phase Memorandum of Understanding (PSFD MoU) was signed at the Pentagon, in Washington DC by the then MoND Vecdi GÖNÜL. According to agreement as a Level–III Partner Turkey’s maximum financial contribution to the total shared costs of the PSFD Phase shall not exceed US$690 Million. As the third phase of the JSF, the PSFD Phase covers the entire service life of the F-35 aircraft beginning from the very first production. The overall objective of the PSFD MOU is to establish a framework to allow the partner countries to cooperatively produce, sustain and do follow-on development (e.g. future technology improvements) of the F-35 JSF. The PSFD MoU details the partners’ responsibilities and benefits in these areas. The PSFD MoU does not commit Turkey to buy the F-35, but it does establish the conditions for its on-going participation in the F-35 JSF Program.

The F-35A was selected as the New Generation Fighter Jet of the Turkish Air Forces Command upon the Decree of the Defence Industry Executive Committee (DIEC) dated December 12, 2006 and the Letter of Intent (LoI) and the Industry Participation Plan was signed between the SSB and the Prime Contractor Lockheed Martin (LM) on February 6, 2007 in Ankara. The number of F-35As to be procured by Turkey was identified as 100 (+16 optional) in order to replace the aging F-4Es and F-4Es by the 2020s in the inventory of the TurAF that are reaching the end of their economic life and the F-16C/D in the following period within a ten-year program as part of the Project. 

So, since 1999, Turkey has committed around US$1.2 Billion (US$6.2 Million + US$175 Million + US$75 Million + US$690 Million + 250 Million) to developing what became known as the F-35 Lightning II. According to the SSB 2008 Activity Report the value of the F-35A contract, for initially planned 100 F-35A CTOL aircraft, is US$10.7 Billion. At a televised interview with Anatolian Agency that was held on June 14, 2018, the then MoND Nurettin CANİKLİ (on July 10, 2018 Mr. CANİKLİ, Minister of National Defence, handed over the duty to General Hulusi AKAR who have appointed to this duty on July 9), disclosed that Turkey will pay around US$11 Billion for 100 F-35As and so far, has paid more than US$800 Million under the JSF Program. Meanwhile, in his letter to the U.S. Congress, which was sent on July 7, 2018, Defence Secretary Jim MATTIS underlined that Turkey has invested US$1.25 Billion in the F-35 development phase. It is not clear yet whether or not the figure announced by the U.S. Defence Secretary MATTIS includes the cost of the National Integrated Training Center (ITC) and European Regional F135 Engine Maintenance Repair Overhaul & Upgrade (MRO&U) facility.

In May 2013, while Turkey did not place any order for the F-35A Lightning II aircraft LM officials disclosed that the total value of the contracts awarded to Turkish companies under the Program has reached US$300 Million. As of April 2016, the estimated value of revenue to be acquired through the work packages assumed by the Turkish Defence Industry throughout the F-35 JSF Program’s total duration was calculated as US$7.5 Billion by the SSB. The Prime Contractor of the JSF Program LM declared that F-35 Production Industrial Participation opportunities for Turkish companies (in total for LM and P&W) are expected to reach more than US$12 Billion by the end of the Program, that is expected to run until 2051. Speaking at a televised interview held on June 13th, 2018 President of Defence Industries (SSB) İsmail DEMİR Ph.D. underlined that so far Turkish Defence and aerospace companies have realized US$700 Million in exports under the F-35 JSF Program.

10 Turkish Defence and aerospace companies (Alp Aviation, Aselsan/MİKES, AYESAŞ, Fokker Elmo, Havelsan, Kale Aero, Kale Pratt & Whitney Engine Industries, Roketsan, TÜBİTAK-SAGE and Turkish Aerospace) have been supporting the development and production phases of the F-35 fighter jets as part of Turkey’s partner role in the JSF Program. Turkish Industry has a significant Industrial Participation role supporting Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney for F-35 aircraft sustainment and F135 turbofan engine production and sustainment. The issue of Turkey’s self-sufficiency in sustaining its planned F-35A Lightning II fleet has been a matter of discussion at the government-to-government level and with the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and Lockheed Martin for several years. As a result of intensive discussions between the Turkish and US Governments Turkey has been given the approval to build/assemble its own F135 engines and was also selected to have the first European Regional F135 Engine depot overhaul capability. Both the engine production and overhaul will take place at the 1st Air Maintenance Factory Directorate (1st AMFD, former 1st ASMC) in Eskisehir. Additionally, Turkish Aerospace (TA) has also been assigned to represent the organic depots of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) within the Autonomic Logistic Global Sustainment (ALGS) system and Havelsan has been assigned as the Turkish Integrator for the National Integrated Training Center (ITC). Meanwhile, In January 2018, the SSB launched a project to enable the TurAF F-35A Lightning II fleet to connect with the Turkish Air Force Information System (HvBS). The HvBS-JSF Integration Project aims to ensure that HvBS and F-35 securely exchange information. The SSB received four proposals from Altay Yazılım, Aydın Yazılım, Havelsan and MilSoft Yazılım.

The TurAF F-35As will be integrated with indigenous weapon systems such as Precision Guidance Kit (HGK), SOM Air Launched Cruise Missile and SOM-J air launched anti-ship missile. HGK series smart ammunition and SOM-J missile integration efforts on F-35A will be launched in 2021 with Block 4.2 software. SOM-J flight tests onboard a TurAF F-16 will be performed in 2019. In fact, even if it can be useful to carry up to six SOM-J missiles (2 in the internal bays and 4 on the external pylons) an F-35A carrying the SOM-J on the underwing pylons would lose much of its stealthiness. Having a range of 150+nm and carrying a single 350lb blast-fragmentation/semi-armor-piercing warhead the 1.000lb class SOM-J is an air-to-surface missile designed for use against heavily defended, high value maritime targets and land targets. Roketsan has been cooperating with TÜBİTAK-SAGE and Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the Prime Contractor of the JSF Program since 2014 for the integration of SOM-J on F-35. A business partnership agreement was signed with Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control (LMMFC) for the design, development, production and marketing of the SOM-J Weapon System in 2014 and the contract was signed in 2016. The integration activities of the F-35 are being carried out by LMMFC with the assistance of Roketsan and TÜBİTAK-SAGE, and these activities are scheduled to be completed in 2023.

The F-35A remains crucial to the continued modernization of TAF and Turkey’s ability to preserve Turkish and allied security and interests. Combining new developments such as composite materials, stealth technology, advanced radar, fully integrated avionics and sensors, low observability (including the use of internal weapons bays), vastly improved situational awareness through a network-centric combat environment and the design ability to act as an integrated data node, the 5th Generation F-35A Lightning II combat aircraft will be a key factor in deterring any attack on Turkey. The F-35A is a lot more than simply an F-4E 2020 and F-16C/D replacement. It will add a wide range of capabilities to the Turkish Armed Forces that Turkey has never had before. The F-35A Lightning II is not just a new generation fighter. It is a completely new weapons system of the TurAF!

TurAF’s 5th Generation Combat Aircraft: F-35A Lighting II

Turkey has a plan to procure as many as 116 F-35As, conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, until 2031 for the TurAF to replace the ageing F-4Es (already phased out of service but when the project was launched they were in service), F-4E 2020s (according to open sources around 31 to 32 aircraft are in service), and F-16C/D Block 30 and Block 40s (according to open sources as of July 2018 there are 138 B30 and B40 aircraft in the TurAF’s inventory).

Although Turkey’s F-35A order was planned as 6 aircraft in training configuration in the beginning, this figure was later reduced to 2 jets and at the DIEC meeting on 5 January 2012, the SSB was authorized to put the firm order for the first two F-35A Lightning II aircraft to be used at the Instructor Pilot training. At that time, in accordance with the Low Rate Initial Production-6 (LRIP-6) agreement, the deliveries were projected to be initiated in 2014. But as a result of Turkey’s request, the delivery date was revised to 2015. In this context, the order regarding the first two aircraft was placed under the LRIP- 7 package and with per-aircraft price of US$120 Million. In respect to the first two aircraft, a payment of around US$380 Million, including the costs of Turkey’s initial logistics and all other items, was projected in the SSDF sources. The two aircraft that were supposed to be delivered in 2015 and to stay at the U.S. for the Instructor Pilot Training for a year were actually planned to be delivered to Turkey by the end of 2016 or in the beginning of 2017. 

However, as the costs in the project exceeded the planned amounts and since no consensus was reached by the governments of the U.S. and Turkey (SSB and TurAF) on increasing the industrial participation (establishment of the Final Assembly and Test capabilities for the F135 engine and establishment of the National F-35 Integrated Training Center [ITC]), sharing of the source codes and integration of the indigenous weapon systems on F-35As, it was decided to postpone the delivery of the first two F-35A JSF aircraft for a period of one year, with the DIEC Decree dated January 3, 2014. In line with the DIEC decision made on May 6, 2014, Turkey placed an order for the first two F-35As to be delivered in LRIP-10 with Block-3F software in 2014. Then the DIEC, the highest decision-making body on Defence procurement in Turkey, approved the procurement of a further four F-35As under LRIP-11during the January 7, 2015 meeting and an additional eight F-35As (at the end of meeting the value of the purchase was announced as US$1.4 Billon by President of Defence Industries Mr. DEMİR) under LRIP-12 at the March 9, 2016 meeting.

Since LRIP-12 was made under Series Production Phase by F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) and partner countries were asked to deliver their orders under Block Buy approach, Turkey decided to add the previously decided upon eight F-35As into the Block Buy package to gain a price advantage. So, during the October 28, 2016 meeting the DIEC approved the Block Buy of 24 F-35As (8+ 16, eight of them were previously planned to be procured under LRIP-12) over three contract years (8 each under LRIP-12, LRIP-13 and LRIP-14). According to the SSB as of June 22, 2018, Turkey has placed an order for a total of 30 F-35As. By the end of 2023 TurAF is expected to receive a total of 30 F-35As, which have been ordered in two batches, and all will be deployed at the 7th Main Jet Base (MJB) located in Akçadağ, Malatya. The schedule of the TurAF’s 30 F-35A Lightning II aircraft per LRIP contract is: LRIP-10 2 aircraft (2018), LRIP-11 4 aircraft (2019), LRIP-12 8 aircraft (2020-21), LRIP-13 8 aircraft (2022) and LRIP-14 8 aircraft (2023).

The 172nd and the 171st Squadrons of the 7th MJB Command will be the TurAF’s first F-35A squadrons. The first batch includes 14 (2+4+8) F-35As and the second batch includes 16 (LRIP-13 and LRIP-14) F-35As. The F-35A AT-01 and F-35A AT-02 are the first two aircraft of the first batch of the F-35A order. These 14 F-35As will be deployed at the F-35A Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) Squadron (172nd Squadron), where the TurAF F-35A pilots receive training from Turkish Instructor Pilots who have completed their training in the US. The second batch of 16 F-35As is expected to equip the 171st Squadron.

According to the current schedule the F-35A AT-01 and AT-02 will stay in the U.S. at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where TurAF pilots and maintainers will perform training on the aircraft, until December 2020.  The 3rd and 4th F-35As, currently at the production/final assembly line, will be delivered in March 2019 and they will also stay at Luke Air Force Base (AFB). These four F-35As will be utilized in TurAF pilot and maintenance personnel training in the U.S. until December 2020. The TurAF’s 5th and 6th F-35As are scheduled to be delivered to Turkey in November 2019 and will be flown by Turkish pilots to the 7th MJB in November of 2019, with several air-to-air refueling serials. By the end of 2019 the TurAF is expected to receive further two F-35As (7th and 8th aircraft) and all of these four F-35As will serve at the 172nd Squadron/F-35A OCU in the 7th MJB. The TurAF is expected to be able to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the 172nd Squadron/F-35A OCU during fourth quarter of 2020, even the Squadron will not have its full complement of F-35As.  The Israeli Air Force (IAF) for example declared IOC for the 140th Squadron (Call Name: Golden Eagle) located at Nevatim Airbase during the first week of December 2017, while there were only 9 F-35I Adir Lightning II jets in the Squadron inventory. As the first main Operating Base of the TurAF F-35As, in addition to the 172nd and 171st Squadrons, the 7th MJB will also host the National F-35 Integrated Training Center (ITC), where TurAF pilots and maintainers will perform training. 

To accommodate F-35As the entire infrastructure for air operations at the 7th MJB is being restructured. The base is being modernized by Nurol İnşaat/Rönesans Holding under a contract valued at TL429.5 Million (around US$121.6 Million according to Central Bank’s August 14, 2017 US$/TL rate) that was awarded on August 14, 2017. In this context a total of 88 building/facility will be demolished and reconstructed. New buildings/facilities are under construction at the 7th MJB to accommodate the F-35A aircraft includes; new Hardened Aircraft Shelters (HASs) and hangars, underground pens, Squadron and Headquarter buildings, mess halls, guest houses, maintenance facilities, depots, heating plant, sport facilities, taxi ways, concrete pavements and a National F-35 ITC building. 

The construction of the National F-35 ITC building is currently on-going and first phase of the facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 and construction of the whole facility is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019. Following the completion of construction, outfitting phase will begin. The inside of the National ITC building will be outfitted with furniture, phones and computers and advanced equipment like classified areas and simulators. According to the current schedule the first class of TurAF students is scheduled to begin training in the National ITC at the 7th MJB in 2020. The National F-35 ITC will have similar features with the F-35 ITC at Luke AFB in Arizona, U.S. Valued at roughly US$47 Million, the F-35 ITC at Luke AFB is an architecturally and technologically advanced facility. Pilots are being trained in Full Mission Simulators (FMSs) that replicate all F-35 sensors and weapons employment and provide half of the initial qualification flights, according to Lockheed Martin. The National ITC facility will provide state-of-the-art training for fighter pilots and maintainers and will serve not only TurAF F-35 pilots and maintainers but also other F-35 user countries’ fighter pilots and maintainers, who will pay for this.

The TurAF has selected the 1st MJB Command located in Eskisehir as the preferred location for the second F-35A Lightning II base. The 1st MJB is currently home to three squadrons: The 111th Squadron flying with F-4E 2020s, the 113th Squadron (Recce Squadron) flying with F-16C/D Block 30TMs and the 401st Test Squadron (under the organization of the 1st Air Maintenance Factory Directorate [1st AMFD]).

Instructor Pilot and Student Pilot Training for the F-35As at Luke AFB

As the introduction of the TurAF F-35A Lightning II is not just about the aircraft, but the entire air system, the build out of basing and training is a key part of the standing up of the F-35A aircraft. As part of transition efforts to the F-35A Lightning II, the TurAF has already started a project to renew entire infrastructure for air operations at the 7th MJB Command, which needed to accommodate F-35As and has sent pilots and maintenance personnel to Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in the U.S. to receive training for the JSF. 

Following the rollout ceremony during the last week of June, both F-35A AT-01 and AT-02 were flown by Lockheed Martin to Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona. TurAF trainees at Luke AFB currently consists of 13 student pilots (who will receive Transition and Instructor Pilot training) and 325 maintenance personnel and lead by Colonel Ziya KABASAKAL. As of June 2018, two TurAF pilots (Major Halit OKTAY and Major M. Onur KARA) have received Instructor Pilot training in the U.S. at Lockheed Martin facility. Their training Program started in early 2018. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) activated the 63rd Fighter Squadron on August 1, 2016 at Luke AFB to train TurAF F-35A pilots. Turkish pilots will perform their first flight with the F-35A in July 2018 after they complete some initial classroom and simulator training. 

The TurAF Instructor Pilots (IPs) will get the qualification to train Turkish and partner nations pilots on the F-35A lightning II Joint Strike Fighter through a 6-month syllabus made of two distinct classes respectively called “Transition” and “Instructor Pilot Upgrade” (IPUG). During Transition the pilots train in various forms of flight: air-to-air combat, air-to-ground missions including SEAD/DEAD tasks (Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defences). At the end of this stage, the student IPs have gained skills to fly these missions in all-weather conditions. During the subsequent IPUG class, the students are taught how to teach follow-on pilots to fly and fight in the F-35A. The IPUG course ends with a check ride required to achieve the IP qualification.

While training as an F-35A student pilot, a TurAF F-16 pilot with more than 1,000 hours of flight experience will complete approximately 200 hours of academics, 14 simulators, a high-speed taxi, and six flights in the F-35A aircraft before being deemed qualified. That training will take four months. A student pilot, who does not have any combat aircraft flight experience and only has about 150 hours of flight time in T-38M Advanced Jet Trainers performed under Advanced Jet Training and Combat Readiness Transition Training at T-38M aircraft at Çiğli Air Base (2nd Main Jet Base Command) in Izmir, Turkey will undergo eight-month training to be certified for the F-35A Lightning II aircraft. During the 141-day training course (which lasts 8 months, 2 months for classroom academic instruction and 6 months for the flight line phase to learn the skills necessary to perform basic air-to-air, air-to-ground, and low-visibility combat flying), the F-35A student pilot will receive around 300 hours of academics; 46 sortie simulator flight (amounting to 80 hours) in a full mission simulator and 48 sortie (roughly 80 hours) flights in the F-35A. TurAF F-35A student pilots will perform 50% of their flight training with simulators.

F135-PW-100 Turbofan Engine MRO&U Capability

Turkey has been given the approval to build/assemble its own F135-PW-100 turbofan engines and on December 11, 2014 was also assigned by the U.S. Department of Defence to be the first European Regional F135 Engine Maintenance Repair Overhaul & Upgrade (MRO&U) capability starting from 2018 for a period of three years, with Norway and the Netherlands providing additional capability approximately 2-3 years after Turkey’s initial capability. For this purpose, The Engine Final Assembly/Check-Out (FACO) Line and Depot-Level Maintenance (DLM) Center for the European Region will be established at 1st Air Maintenance Factory Directorate (1st AMFD, the former 1st Air Supply Maintenance Center [ASMC]). A signing ceremony between the SSB and TEI for JSF Project Engine Final Assembly Line Establishment, Activation and the 1st AMFD T-11 Test Cell Modification Phase Project’ was held on March 23, 2017 at the SSB Headquarters in Ankara, Turkey. TEI will realize the 1st AMFD T-11 Test Cell Modification and Engine FACO Line Assembly within a project schedule period of three years  at the 1st AMFD in Eskisehir. The capabilities acquired as part of the project, to be carried out under the leadership of Aircraft Department of the SSB. The 1st AMFD will be the first center to be established for the purpose of providing heavy maintenance and repair services for JSF aircraft of all users across the European region. In this context, beginning from the third quarter of 2019, F135 engine Depot Level Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul and Upgrade (MRO&U) activities of all F-35A aircraft, to be procured by the European Countries under the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, will be performed at 1st AMFD. According to the SSB with F135 Engine MRO&U capability Turkey will be able to provide DLM service to at least 100 F135 engines per year starting from 2024. 

Meanwhile, in addition to the TurAF, the Turkish Navy is also planning to procure up to 32 F-35Bs, STOVL version of the Lightning II aircraft, to deploy at two LHDs (TCG Anadolu [under construction and expected to enter service in 2021] and the second LHD [planned to be constructed during the second half of 2020s]). The Turkish Navy already selected two pilots to be trained on the F-35B in the U.S. According to sources soon after a DIEC decision would be made regarding F-35B procurement for the Turkish Navy, these plots will receive Advanced Jet Training at T-38M aircraft at Çiğli Air Base (2nd Main Jet Base Command) in Izmir, Turkey and then will fly to the U.S. to receive F-35B Transition and Instructor Pilot training. Turkey has officially expressed its interest in buying the F-35B STOVL variant to the US in October 2017.

F-35 Lightning II Aircraft and JSF Program

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft. The F-35 will be manufactured in three versions: a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant for the U.S. Air Force, an aircraft-carrier version (CV) for the US Navy, and a short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) version for the U.S. Marine Corps and the UK Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Three variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the US Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the US Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least ten other countries. 

Nine nations have partnered in the F-35’s SDD Phase: The United States (USAF 1.763 F-35As, DoN 693 F-35B/Cs), United Kingdom (RAF/RN 138 F-35Bs), Italy (60 F-35As and 3o F-35Bs), the Netherlands (37 F-35As), Turkey (100 F-35As), Canada (65 F-35As), Denmark (27 F-35As), Norway (52 F-35As), and Australia (100 F-35As). International partners of the Program have agreed to contribute US$4.375 Billion towards development costs. There are three levels of international participation. The levels generally reflect financial stake in the program, the amount of technology transfer and subcontracts open for bid by national companies, and the order in which countries can obtain production aircraft. The UK is the sole ‘Level-I’ partner, contributing US$2.5 Billion. Israel and Singapore have joined the Program as Security Cooperative Participants (SCP). Israel has ordered 50 F-35Is, Japan has ordered 42 F-35A and South Korea has ordered 40 F-35As. Israel declared IOC for the F-35I Adir in December 2017. Total development costs are estimated at more than US$40 Billion. The purchase of an estimated 2,400 aircraft is expected to cost an additional US$200 Billion.

As of June 10, 2018, more than 620 F-35 pilots and 5,600 maintainers have qualified through the F-35 Training System, eight nations have pilots and/or maintainers in training and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 140,000 cumulative flight hours. Simulation plays a prominent role in the F-35 training process, more so than legacy platforms. Because of the advanced capabilities of the F-35, it is not possible to adequately challenge pilots in the live environment alone. With simulation, the F-35 team is redefining how pilots train to provide the range of experience required to maximize the jet’s 5th Generation capabilities.

Under the F-35 Lightning II Program the first production model of the F-35 Lightning II (F-35A known as AF-6) conducted its first flight on February 25, 2011 and aircraft deliveries also started in 2011. On June 11, 2018 the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin delivered the 300th production F-35 aircraft, demonstrating the program’s continued progress and momentum. The 300th aircraft is a U.S. Air Force F-35A, delivered to Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The first 300 F-35s include 197 F-35A CTOL variants, 75 F-35B STOVL variants, and 28 F-35C carrier variants (CV) and have been delivered to U.S. and international customers. The total aircraft quantities ordered under LRIP-1 to LRIP-10 is 358.

As production volume increases and additional efficiencies are implemented, the price of F-35 aircraft continues to decline. LM is on track to reduce the cost of an F-35A to US$80 Million by Lot-14/LRIP-14 in 2020, which is equal to or less than the legacy 4th generation aircraft. The price of the F-35A fell below US$100 Million for the first time in LRIP-10. Announced in February 2017 under LRIP-10 contract a total of 94 F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft in three versions will be delivered. In LRIP-10 the price of an F-35A was lowered to US$94.3 Million (including airframe, engine and contractor fee and approximately 7.5% less than LRIP-9 aircraft), the F-35B’s price was lowered to US$122.8 Million and the F-35C carrier version sat at US$121.8 Million, representing about 7.7% reduction in unit cost when compared with the LRIP-9 prices. Confirmed on July 15, 2018 Lockheed Martin made a “handshake agreement” with the F-35 Joint Program Office for the LRIP-11 which covers a total of 141 F-35 Lightning II jets for the U.S. and international customers. The company declined to state the unit cost for LRIP-11until the deal was finalized but Reuters cited sources that said the cost per unit of the F-35A in Lot 11 would fall about 6% to about US$89 Million (including airframe, engine and contractor fee). The flyaway cost is aimed to be reduced to no more than US$85 Million for the F-35A in Lot 13. Lockheed Martin has delivered 66 F-35 in 2017 and plans to deliver 91 in 2018, 130 in 2019, 145 in 2020, 150 in 2021 and 2022 and 160+ in 2023. F-35 will remain in service until 2077.

The F-35 is the most advanced warplane ever produced. More than 300,000 individual parts (each aircraft contains over 35,000 major components of which around 6,000 of them are used at Center Fuselage) from more than 1,400 suppliers from domestic and international companies around the world, all come together to produce the F-35 Lightning II at Lockheed Martin’s factory in Forth Worth, Texas. But final assembly is largely a matter of connecting three fuselage sections plus wings. The present build time for each F-35 is 36 months, following a contract award and 18 months of this period is spent at final assembly line. Currently Lockheed Martin manufactures 7 to 8 F-35 jets per month but in 2020 the production rate is aimed to be increased to 15 to 17 aircraft a month, which represents the maximum level in F-35 production history. For this purpose, the company opened an expanded manufacturing facility in May 2018 that will help increase production of the F-35 Lightning II jets.

The F-35A has a maximum speed of over Mach 1.6 with a maximum takeoff weight of 60,000lbs (27,000kg). As a multi-role stealth fighter, the F-35A can be configured to suit a variety of missions. The jet is designed to carry up to 18,000 pounds of munitions on 11 internal and external weapons stations (+ GAU-22/A four-barrel 25mm gun) depending on mission requirements. The F-35 is designed with two internal weapon bays (containing a total of four hardpoints), six external underwing hardpoints/pylons, which can be used when stealthiness is not required and a centerline pylon, cleared for 1,000lb. The two outer external pylons are cleared for 300lb and will be used for air-to-air missiles (AAM) missiles such as AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-132 ASRAAM and GÖKDOĞAN (Peregrine) short-range AAMs only.  The other underwing pylons with a capacity of 2,500lb and 5,000lbs can carry the AIM-120 AMRAAM or BOZDOĞAN (Merlin) Beyond Visual Range (BVR) AAMs, AGM-158 JASSM, SOM, SOM-J cruise missiles, and guided bombs such as GBU-12 and HGK. The two weapon bays include two pylons each (7, 8 and 4, 5,), two on the doors (7 and 5, capable of 350lbs each) for AAMs, and 2 pylons (8 and 4, capable of 2.500lb each) for both AAMs and air-to-surface loads.

With its multi-spectral active, passive & IR sensors, and increased payload, the F-35 is more capable in air-to-ground role and optimized for Global Precision Attack. The F-35 is drastically more than just a fighter jet; it is a highly integrated air system. The F-35A’s advanced sensor package gathers and distributes more information than any fighter in history, giving operators a decisive advantage over all adversaries. The Lightning II will provide paralleled situation awareness, allowing the pilot to virtually “look through the floor of the fighter or behind the aircraft”. Networking will also allow the pilot to see information provided by other aircraft, ships or ground units. Its tremendous processing power, open architecture, sophisticated sensors, information fusion and flexible communication links make the F-35 an indispensable tool in future homeland Defence, joint and coalition irregular warfare, and major combat operations. According to sources the F-35 offers far broader capabilities so it is not fair to label it just a “fighter”. Land-based tests in 2016 showed the Aegis Combat System could kill a target using a Standard-Missile 6 (SM-6) with data provided solely by an F-35, with at-sea tests to follow.

Fifth-generation fighter capabilities are largely defined by their software capabilities. The F-35 has more software than any other air combat aircraft, with 8.6 million lines of code in the aircraft, and a further 7 million lines of software in the supporting ground systems.

The F-35 is less maneuverable than some fourth-generation aircraft, particularly the Russian Sukhoi fighters, but this deficiency is negated through its all-aspect stealth feature. The F-35 has stealth designed in as part of the aircraft from the beginning. The F-35’s advanced stealth allows pilots to penetrate areas without being detected by radars that legacy fighters cannot evade. The F-22 Raptor is probably the only operational aircraft stealthier than the JSF, but the radar cross section of the JSF is at its lowest when directly facing a radar. It then increases as the aircraft turns away from the radar presenting more of its side rather than front. The F-35’s exact Radar Cross Section (RCS) is classified; however, Aviation Week magazine reports that the F-35 RCS is -30 dBsm or .001 square meters. In June 2016 the F-35 JSF scored an 8:0 kill ratio against the F-15E during mock air combat. It was disclosed in September 2017 that during their flight which lasted 45 minutes within the Greek FIR, while heading to Nevatim Airbase in Israel, the two new F-35I Adir fighters of the Israeli Air Force were not detected by any Greek air surveillance radar in the area. F-35 Lightning II jets are equipped with Luneberg Radar Reflectors, which increase the F-35’s radar signature several hundred times over so that helping friendly nations spot the stealth jet, or allowing F-35, a plane that would normally be nearly impossible for civilian air traffic controllers to spot, to give off a big, safe blip. During ferry flights when the aircraft use also the transponder in a cooperative way with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) agencies. At peace time, since the aircraft don’t need to evade the radars, F-35s operte with Luneberg Radar Reflectors, also known as RCS enhancers, hence not in “stealth mode”. These devices are installed on the aircraft on the ground and can also be used when the aircraft operate close to the enemy whose ground or flying radars, intelligence gathering sensors with an aim to prevent enemy to collect real RCS data of the aircraft. According to TurAF officials, since the radar reflector devices have on-off control capability and they can be switch on or switch off by the pilot during flight.

B. TF-X: National Combat Aircraft

In order to meet Turkish Air Force (TurAF) requirements beyond 2030s, the TF-X National Combat Aircraft (Milli Muharip Uçak/MMU) Development Program was launched in accordance with Decision No 545 adopted at DIEC dated 15 December 2010. The MMU/TF-X was planned to replace the F-16C/D Combat Aircraft starting from 2030 and Turkish Aerospace (TA) was selected as the Prime Contractor. The contract for the Conceptual Design Development Project was signed between the SSB and Turkish Aerospace on August 23, 2001.

Under the ‘Concept Development and Preliminary Design Phase’, which is the first phase of the Program, Turkish Aerospace (TA) designated SAAB Aircraft Company as the Technical Support and Assistance Provider (TSAP) for themselves. Under the contract involving a 24-month schedule that came into force on 29 September 2011, between September 2011 - September 2013, Prime Contractor TA prepared three separate conceptual designs with technical support provided by SAAB Aircraft. These three configurations are named as follows; FX-1 (configuration with double engine, back wing and conventional tail design such as F/A-18, EuroFighter, Rafale and Mig-29), FX-5 (configuration with single engine, back wing and conventional tail design) and FX-6 (configuration with single engine, broad delta wing and front wings). It is anticipated that single engine fighter aircraft (FX-5 and FX-6) would feature between 50,000-60,000lbs of maximum takeoff weight (MToW) and the double engine concept (FX-1) will have 60,000-70,000lbs of MToW. Performance analyses have been carried out on all three designs/concepts and it was seen that they all meet the TurAF’s requirements almost at the rate of 100%. Under the ‘Concept Development and Preliminary Design Phase’, on September 29, 2013, TAI submitted the report for the designs and the results of the efforts carried out during the past two years to the SSB.

The entire document package, including aircraft specifications, development program plan and budget estimates, which was completed and delivered at the end of the Conceptual Design Development Project, was accepted by the SSB in early 2014. Although during the DIEC meeting held on May 6, 2014 the decision for the initiation of the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase was expected to be made for the subsequent phase of the Project, the project was only placed on the agenda at the DIEC meeting held on January 7, 2015. At the meeting, the decision was made to initiate the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase within the scope of the TF-X National Combat Aircraft Development Program.

A Request for Information (RFI) was issued by the SSB on March 13, 2015 to the international aviation companies capable to design, develop and/or produce the 5th Generation Combat Aircraft for the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase initiated by the DIEC Decision dated January 7, 2015. The related RFI, originally addressed to nine international companies, however, was only by BAE Systems, SAAB Aircraft and Airbus Defence & Space (ADS) who submitted their responses to the SSB in April 2015. Turkish Aerospace (TA) was designated as the Prime Contractor for the MMU/TF-X Development Program’s Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase in line with the DIEC Decision made in April 2015.

Under the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase, which will end up with completion of the Preliminary Design Phase, beyond the design and development of the TF-X aircraft, engineering capabilities, technology development activities (for key sensors like radar, electronic warfare.. etc.), test infrastructures establishment and certification processes will be performed and extensive capabilities for a new generation jet fighter design, development and production will be gained by the Turkish Defence & Aerospace Industry. 

In June 2015, an RFP was issued by the SSB to BAE Systems, SAAB Aircraft and ADS companies that responded to RfI. As per the evaluation of proposals, BAE Systems Company came to the forefront as a candidate for the Foreign Cooperation Company (FCC/YIF) to provide technical support for certain fields to the Prime Contractor TA, within the scope of MMU/TF-X Development Program Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase, which covers the design, development, production, test and certification studies of MMU/TFX prototypes (total of seven aircraft). As a result of the proposal evaluations conducted during the FCC selection process, it was decided to start negotiations for the contract with the British company BAE Systems on November 12, 2015 and as from December 2015, the Pre-Contract Studies with BAE Systems commenced.

The MMU/TF-X Program will be carried out under three periods as the Design and Prototype Qualification (Period I), Acquisition of Initial Operation Capability and Full Operation Capability (Period II) and Mass Production (Period III). A preliminary agreement was signed on July 14, 2016 during the Farnborough International Airshow 2016 (FIA ‘16) in London between the Prime Contractor TA and the SSB for the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase (Period I, Phase I), which is expected to last four years. Signatures for the official agreement were given in Ankara on August 5, 2016. In early 2016, the decision was made to continue the project with twin-engine aircraft configurations (FX-1 and FX-2). The FX-2 concept was prepared and submitted during the second half of 2015 by the MMU/TF-X Program Management Office (PMO) established with the participation of the SSB, the TurAF and TA representatives, resembled YF-23 from all appearances. In contrast to the FX-1, which is a twin-engine with a conventional wing tail assembly, in the FX-2 the horizontal stabilizers have been removed, the angles of vertical stabilizers have been slightly increased, the air intakes have been placed not on the sides but in the bottom, a little further back and the joints of the wings with the fuselage have been designed in a more ‘blended’ manner. Thus, it is intended to reduce weight and drag, and meet performance requirements even if the Radar Cross Section (RCS) value slightly increases. However, during the fourth quarter of 2016, the twin-engine FX-1 concept was selected over FX-2.

Pre-Contract Studies with FCC candidate BAE Systems were conducted in 2016 and negotiations with alternative FCC candidate Airbus Defence & Space (ADS) were initiated in November 2016 in order to serve as the basis for the final selection decision. ADS Company presented the report on the technical evaluations as of the end of 2016. 

On January 28, 2017 in the presence of the Prime Ministers of Turkey and the United Kingdom, BAE Systems and TA signed a Heads of Agreement (HoA) valued at US$156 Million to collaborate under the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase of the TF-X Program. In addition, the Letter of Agreement (LoA) was signed during the IDEF ‘17 Fair in Istanbul. The UK Department for International Trade brought an Open General Export License (OGEL) into effect on July 28, 2017. The OGEL will allow companies involved in the development of the TF-X Program to apply for licenses to export goods, software and technology from a range of control list classifications, including air launched munitions, fire-control equipment, aircraft components, propulsion systems, ground support equipment, electronic equipment, training and simulation equipment, imaging and countermeasure equipment, and specialized forgings, fittings and coatings. The TA-BAE Systems Collaboration Agreement was signed and entered in to effect on August 25, 2017.

As of June 2018, the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase is continuing and is planned to be completed in 2021. The 4-year scheduled Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase is expected to cost around US$1.3 Billion (according to TA President & CEO Temel KOTİL around US$300-400 Million of this figure will be allocated for infrastructural investment and around US$1 Billion for the engineers) and to be followed by an 8-year scheduled Critical Design Review (CDR) and Prototype Production and Qualification Phase, which is estimated to cost around US$7.3 Billion. At the end of 12-years and US$8.6 Billion (US$8.2 Billion is expected to be spent until the first prototype’s maiden flight) in expenses, seven flying TF-X prototypes will be manufactured for the test, evaluation and qualification purposes. TA President & CEO KOTİL, estimated that the TF-X Program would cost about US$20 Billion. Meanwhile in April 2018, it was announced that the TF-X Program would be realized within a Project-based incentive system. In this context for the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase TA has received a TL4.817 Billion (US$1.178 Billion) incentive certificate under the incentive program. According to the current estimation the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) Phase of the TF-X Program will employ 3,200 people, with an indirect employment contribution estimated to be around 11,200 people.

On June 22, 2018 Turkish Aerospace (TA) signed a cooperation agreement with Dassault Systèmes for the implementation and maintenance of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform within TF-X Program. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform delivers seamless integration between data management and industry-leading design and process capabilities.  As TA states through a written statement, collaboration with Dassault Systèmes will include data security and quick design processes of the company’s original projects, while the software will be used primarily in the TF-X fighter, one of the authentic products of the Turkish industrial giant. In April 2018 TA President & CEO KOTİL disclosed that TA has procured a 10,000-core computer and it was being setting up at TAI facilities  to be utilized under Preliminary Design Phase of the TF-X Program.

On July, 2018 TA signed a contract with Aircraft Research Association (ARA) Company, an independent research and development organization providing a range of specialist services to the worldwide aerospace industry, of the UK regarding the risk reduction phase of the wind tunnel tests for the TF-X aircraft. The highest level of quality wind tunnel data is required to verify an aerodynamic design. The ARA’s Experimental Aerodynamics Department uses the latest wind tunnel test techniques efficiently to provide accurate aerodynamic databases for the world’s largest civil aircraft, military aircraft and Defence system development programs. ARA currently operates a Transonic Wind Tunnel (TWT), a closed circuit, continuous flow tunnel with 2.4m wide, 2.33m high and operates continuously from Mach 0.2 to Mach 1.4. Since Turkey presently lacks a sufficient infrastructure in high-speed wind tunnel testing was planning to utilize BAE Systems capabilities in this field during TF-X’s wind tunnel test phase especially at supersonic speeds. The BAE Systems Wind Tunnel facility is home to two tunnels, known respectively as the low speed and high-speed tunnels. In the latter tests can be carried out at speed up to Mach 3.8, which makes it perfect for transonic work.

As Turkey’s most ambitious Defence program, the TF-X Development Program is being carried out under the coordination of TF-X Program Management Office (PMO), comprising of representatives from the TurAF National Combatant Branch Office, the SSB, TA and BAE Systems personnel.  As part of its reorganization effort the TA has established the MMU/TF-X Department.

To carry out the TF-X Program TA is constructing a new facility at the Ankara Aerospace Industrial Zone, a total of 2,700 engineers will be employed at this facility. According to TA President & CEO Temel KOTİL, TF-X will feature Acoustic Heating Technology and during next 10-years period a total of 10,000 Turkish and foreign (including those from BAE Systems) engineers from different disciplines and with supersonic fighter design and manufacture experience (know-how) will work under the program. Under the contract BAE System will provide 400 man/year engineering support for a period of 4 years to TA under the Engineering Development & Preliminary Design Phase of the TF-X Program.

In order to meet the TurAF’s operational requirements properly, the 60,000lb class the TF-X will be equipped with twin turbofan engines, with Low Observability and Super Cruise capabilities. According to TA President & CEO KOTİL when entered in the service of the TurAF the TF-X will have indigenous turbofans each generating with a 27,000lb thrust. The first TF-X prototype was expected to achieve its maiden flight in 2023, when Turkey will celebrate 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic, but this schedule was renewed in March 2018 when TA President & CEO KOTİL disclosed that first flight will be achieved in 2026 with engines to be procured from abroad (such as EuroJet EJ200, F414-GE-400 of GE or Saturn AL-31 of Russian United Engine Corporation [UEC]). In June 2018, the TF-X first flight date was renewed once again according to the current plan and the TF-X prototype will perform its maiden flight in 2027. The first of an envisioned 150 production of TF-X aircraft are expected to leave TA facilities in 2029 and to enter service in 2031. Deliveries will continue until 2039 and the TF-X aircraft will be phased out from the Turkish Air Force inventory after the 2070s.

TF-X Aircraft and Turbofan Engine

National Combat Aircraft TF-X will be a single-seat, twin-engine next generation fighter (based on FX-1 concept) with stealth features and new generation avionics. Replacing the F-16C/Ds currently in service of the TurAF during the first quarter of the 2030s, the TF-X will be a fifth-generation indigenous air superiority fighter with secondary ground attack capability, which will escort and provide air protection to the TurAF’s F-35A Lighting II fleet.  The TurAF currently operates 238 F-16C/D aircraft and Turkey is likely to procure some 150 TF-X in the long term to replace F-16s.

In December 2017 Turkish Aerospace (TA) released the technical specifications of TF-X. According to TA, the TF-X will measure 19 meters (60ft) long, have a 12-meter wingspan, around 60m² (670ft²) wing area and a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 60,000lbs+ (27.215kg+).  Powered with a pair of over 20,000lb class turbofan engines, the TF-X is intended to have a maximum speed of Mach 2, a service ceiling of over 55,000 feet, and a combat radius of over 600 nautical miles.  

Aselsan is working on a on a domestic gallium-nitride Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Electronic Warfare System, Digital Cockpit with a large central display screen, Integrated Modular Avionics Mission Computer and an Infrared Search and Tract (IRST) System for the TF-X. According to Aselsan, the AESA radar and EW System will be in integrated configuration. The final configuration of the indigenous AESA radar will be completed when the design of the TF-X become mature. It is not known at the moment whether the TF-X will have a single multi-mode main front AESA antenna on the nose or will also feature side-looking arrays and L-band arrays mounted in the wing leading edges as it is seen at Su-57/T-50 aircraft. During the EURASIA 2018 Airshow, in April 2018, TA signed a preliminary contract with Aselsan for the development of the indigenous AESA radar, EW and electro-optical (IRIST) systems for the TF-X fighter.

Within the scope of efforts initiated regarding the procurement of 7-sets of turbofan engines to be used on TF-X prototypes, an RFP was issued by the SSB on January 17, 2014 through TA to EuroJet Turbo GmbH, General Electric (GE), Pratt & Whitney (P&W), RosoboronExport and Snecma. While GE (F414-GE-400 and F110-GE-129), EuroJet (EJ200) and Snecma (M88-4E) companies submitted their proposals to TA in late June 2014, P&W and RosoboronExport did not deliver any proposals. 

As a result of the Feasibility Studies conducted under coordination of the SSB for the development of the new engine in compliance with the requirements of TF-X, the decision was made to launch a new tender process for the development of a totally new national engine, the IP rights of which would belong to Turkey (SSB), with a foreign engine supplier/Technical Support Provider, by cancelling the tender process that was initiated in 2014. Within this frame, the official letter stating the cancellation of the first tender was sent by the SSB in mid-2017 to the engine manufacturers, who had submitted their proposals. Then the SSB issued a new tender and received proposals from TEI (without GE) and TAEC (Kale Group and Rolls-Royce JV company) in December 2017, while EuroJet decided not to not participate in the tender. TEI committed to make everything from scratch within the scope of the Project, to develop an indigenous turbofan engine, the IP rights of which will belong to Turkey, to certify and deliver it to the SSB within 14.5 years by completing the qualification process. 

Meanwhile according to sources SSB/TA recently carried out negotiations with Rostec/Russian United Engine Corporation (UEC) not only for TF-X prototypes but also for HürJet aircraft. Signs of Russian interest in aiding Turkey in its TF-X program have surfaced in April 2018, when Russian aerospace corporation Rostec’s International Cooperation & Regional Policy Director Viktor KLADOV told press at the Eurasia Airshow in Antalya, Turkey, that his company would prepare a proposal for cooperation with Turkey on aircraft engines. “We could supply an engine,” he said. During those days, Turkish procurement officials have confirmed Russian interest in a plan for the development of an engine that would power the TF-X. “There is a Russian interest in this regard, but it is too premature to say if the idea would gain further ground,” an official said.

On May 8, 2017 Kale Group announced that they would set up a joint venture company (TAEC, 51% Kale Group and 49% Rolls-Royce) with UK-based Rolls-Royce to develop civilian and fighter aircraft engines including for Turkey’s planned TF-X fighter jet. According to Kale Group if they are selected they will develop the first production engine until 2023 and start to mass production of the engine by 2030 following the completion of all certification processes. According to Chris CHOLERTON, President of Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace, they plan to develop an engine from scratch for the planned TF-X fighter jet and Turkey will hold the intellectual property (IP) rights of this new engine. Rolls-Royce previously developed the XG-40 core engine that forms a basis also for EJ200 engine’s core. 

The winner of the tender will cooperate with TR Motor Company (TA [35%] + BMC [55%] + SSB [10%]) for the development and manufacture of 27,000lb turbofan engine. Speaking on the TF-X Program at a televised interview held on June 13th, 2018 President of Defence Industries (SSB) Mr. DEMİR underlined that currently 50 engineers have been working/studying on TF-X engine and 10 experienced and valuable engineers have been brought to Turkey from abroad via reverse brain drain. SSB DEMİR also stressed that knowledge on aircraft engines in Turkey would be gathered under the umbrella of the TR Motor Company.

During Turkish President Recep Tayyip ERDOGAN’s official visit to the UK, that took place during May 13-15, 2018, Turkish SSB DEMİR and British Minister for Defence Procurement Guto BEBB signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) Agreement. The LoI stipulates that the result of the Rolls-Royce bid should be finalized by July 31, 2018. 

C. HürJet New Generation AJT & Light Attack Aircraft Development Project

On July, 2018 Turkey’s Defence procurement agency SSB announced with a tweet that under the HürJet Project a Protocol had been signed between TA, SSB and TurAF Command. According to Protocol, which was signed on July 2, 2018 the Hürjet Project, developed considering the needs of both Turkish and global markets, will receive strong support from both SSB and the TurAF Command. 

The initial studies for the “Advanced Jet Trainer & Light Attack Aircraft (Hürjet) Project” was started in July 2017 and the Project was officially launched on August 14, 2017, as a company funded project (which funded from TA’s own resources) after receiving a green light to go ahead from TA’s Board. Conceptual Design Phase (CDP) of the HürJet Project was completed in April 2018, currently engineering and analysis studies as part of its Preliminary Design Review (PDR) Phase activities are underway. The PDR Phase is expected to be completed in August 2019, and to be followed by Critical Design Review (CDR) Phase, which is scheduled to be launched some time in 2019.

The Hürjet Project is aimed at the development of an indigenous new generation Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT), capable of supersonic flight to replace T-38M jet trainer fleet in the service of the TurAF, and a Light Attack Aircraft (LCA) able to perform a Close Air Support (CAS) role to assist and release the loads on the TurAF’s F-16C/Ds shoulders. The -iIndigenous jet trainer HürJet will be utilized to train and prepare pilots for the next generation F-35A and TF-X fighters in 2030s, replacing ageing T-38M jet trainers in service with the TurAF. Currently. The TurAF operates 68 T-38M Advanced Jet Trainers in Advanced Jet Training and Combat Readiness Transition Training Çiğli Air Base (2nd Main Jet Base Command) in Izmir. As in the case of the T-38M, HürJet will be also utilized in both Advanced Jet Training and Combat Readiness Transition Training. The TurAF can also employ the HürJet as an aggressor aircraft during exercises.

According to Protocol the HürJet prototypes (a total of five) will be manufactured in two different configurations; the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). The AJT will be the first produced configuration while the second will be, an armed variant. In the LCA variant, a fire control radar, external payloads (on six external hardpoints) up to 3 tons (2.721kg according to infographic prepared and distributed by the SSB on July, 2018), a fire control system and various mission systems will be integrated. The HürJet AJT prototype is expected to perform its maiden flight in 2022 and to enter TurAF service in 2025.

According to current research the market size of jet trainers has reached an annual average of US$1.6 billion in 20 years. And many of the Armed Forces around the world, including the USAF and the TurAF, are planning to replace their existing jet trainers with advanced versions over the next 10 years. It is considered that the U.S. will have difficulty supporting the foreign market since their T-X jet trainer aircraft Program, launched by the USAF in December 2016, will occupy producers until the end of the 2020s. Due to this gap to be created by the U.S., it is predicted that some 2,500 jet training aircraft will be sold from 2017 to 2025 and Turkey/Turkish Aerospace would be able to meet approximately 20% (500 aircraft) of this need over HürJet.

In order to attract the attention of potential international customers, Turkish Aerospace showcased a full-scale mock-up (indeed a ground prototype of the aircraft) of the HürJet Advanced Jet Trainer & Light Attack Aircraft, with single turbofan engine (F404-GE-102, offers 17,000lb thrust with afterburner) and having underwing stores of indigenous air-to-air (GÖKDOĞAN/Peregrine short-range IIR guided AAMs) and air-to-ground (UMTAS and TEBER-82) weapon systems as well as BNA’s external fuel tank. There was an eagle figure, a long-time symbol of the Turkish nation and Turkish Air Force, on the tail of HürJet mock-up, which was painted with digital camouflage. According to sources TA engineers completed the HürJet’s composite mock-up in 11 weeks.

The HürJet is a single-engine, twin-seat advanced jet trainer and light attack aircraft, currently under development by TA (and probably with technical support from Sierra Nevada Corporation [SNC] of the United States which was, at one point, a player in the USAF T-X advanced jet trainer competition) to replace the ageing T-38M AJTs currently in service with the TurAF. The aircraft is being developed in two versions; AJT and LCA. The HürJet prototypes will be powered by a GE’s 17,000lb thrust class F404-GE-102 turbofan engine. A number of series productions of HürJet are also expected to be powered by F404 turbofans (to be manufactured under license in Turkey). But there is a plan to start deploying indigenous turbofan engine on HürJet production models some time at series production phase during the 2030s. Designed with the goal of 5th generation training aircraft, the HürJet features; modern glass cockpit (including Aselsan’s Integrated Mission Display [IMD-820], a large area colored multifunction display and VPX compatible mission computer), Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS, offered provisionally helmet system projects essential symbology and aiming parameters onto the visor, enhancing the pilot’s situational awareness and providing head-out control of aircraft targeting systems and sensors), advanced mission and flight computers, embedded training system, live virtual constructive training system, BAE Systems LiteHUD HUD System (selected in July 2017 and already deployed at the mock-up/ground prototype), intra & inter data link and air-to-air refueling capabilities (dry for AJT and wet for LCA versions), is designed to execute pilot training as well as light attack missions in all weather conditions. The aircraft is designed to incorporate a full authority digital fly-by-wire (FBW) flight control system (to be developed indigenously), elevator, rudder and aileron control system. 

As a clean-sheet design the HürJet will be Turkey’s first indigenous supersonic aircraft and one of the world’s few supersonic trainers. The aircraft is approximately 13m in length, 4.2m in height, has 9.8m wingspan and 24m2 wing area. The figures related the predicted dry weight and maximum takeoff weight of the aircraft have not been publicized yet. The maximum speed of the HürJet will be Mach 1.2; the maximum altitude will be 45,000ft. The HürJet will have climb rate of 25,000ft/minute, will be able to perform +8G/-3G maneuver and capable of sustaining 6.5G at an altitude of 15,000ft. The range of the aircraft is 2.592km.

D. HürKuş-A/B/C Basic Trainer & Light Attack Aircraft Programs

The Turkish Primary and Basic Trainer Aircraft (HürKuş) Development Program Contract for the prototype manufacturing (2 ea. prototype aircraft and 2 ea. structural test aircraft) of the HürKuş-A aircraft was signed between the SSB and Prime Contractor TA on March 15, 2006. Named after Turkey’s most famous fighter pilot and aircraft pioneer, Vecihi HÜRKUŞ, the HürKuş turboprop Primary and Basic Trainer Aircraft Program comprises the design, development, testing, verification, manufacturing and civil certification of an indigenous training aircraft. In addition to a number of military and civil standards, the HürKuş aircraft has been designed for certification in accordance with the EASA CS-23 standard. The HürKuş-A will have night and day mission capability, tandem seating and a single turboprop engine, allowing familiarization training in instrument flight, navigation and formation flight. 

Equipped with an analogue cockpit the HürKuş-A aircraft performed its first flight on August 29, 2013. The certification (Type Certification according to CS-23 requirements) of HürKuş-A by EASA and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (SHGM) was completed in July 2016 following the completion of over 500 flight tests with prototypes (with TC-VCH and TC-VCI tail numbers). 

Under the Series Production contract awarded in December 2013 and valued at around US$250 Million, TA is manufacturing 15 HürKuş-B Basic Trainers (+40 options), to meet demand of Turkish Air Forces Command for New Generation Basic Training Aircraft. As an advanced version of HürKuş-A and in contrast to HürKuş-A, the HürKuş-B will have digital cockpit layout along with modern integrated avionics including Aselsan’s GMFD-68 colored MFDs, Central Control Computer, DSH-300 Internal Communication System, ANS-511 Inertial Navigation System, MXF-484 V/UHF Airborne Radio Sets, national IFF transponder, OFP software and Digital Map). Aselsan has already completed deliveries of 10 sets of HürKuş-B cockpit avionics to Turkish Aerospace. Fotoniks, on the other hand, is providing LiteHUD Head Up Display (HUD) System, Control Panel, Rudder-A system, stall system, radar altimeter and digital video data recording system for the HürKuş-B. In January 2015 LiteHUD was selected for HürKuş-B and during IDEF ‘15, BAE Systems signed a contract with Fotoniks to collaborate on the development and in-region delivery of aircraft display systems. Under the terms of the agreement, Fotoniks would develop BAE Systems’ LiteHUD HUD System at their facility in Ankara to meet Turkish requirements so that it can be fitted to the HürKuş-B New Generation Basic Training Aircraft of the TurAF and to deliver 16 new LiteHUD HUD Systems to the TurAF with the assistance of BAE Systems. The first batch of LiteHUD HUD Systems were delivered to Turkish Aerospace for the HürKuş-Bs in December 2016. Meanwhile, it is intended that Alp Aviation will manufacture the landing gears of HürKuş-B aircraft in Turkey within the scope of the works for the nationalization of the sub-systems of HürKuş-B aircraft. 

With the HürKuş-B contract, the number of local contractors taking part in the HürKuş Program has risen to 33 (from 26). The contract also covers the start of Conceptual Design studies for HürKuş-C Next Generation Light Attack & Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft, armed version of HürKuş-B, developed in response to meet the armed close air support (CAS) and reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft requirement of the Turkish Land Forces Command.

Under the contract the first HürKuş-B aircraft with tail number 17-101 performed its maiden flight on January 19, 2018. TA President & CEO KOTİL Ph.D. while talking about successful first test flight of HürKuş-B, emphasized that right after HürKuş-A, which was built for civilian use, HürKuş-B was designed specifically for the Turkish Armed Forces. KOTİL said: “HürKuş-B is 100kg lighter, faster, more modern and stronger than HürKuş-A. This version has a more stable and comprehensive design”. Deliveries of HürKuş-B Basic Trainers were planned to start in June 2018, but this date was then postponed to Autumn 2018 (September/October). Due to some further modifications on the aircraft to meet the TurAF’s last minute requirements. According to MoND 2017 Activity Report, the HürKuş-B deliveries to the TurAF will be completed in June 2019.

The HürKuş-A was designed through the work of 140 engineers and 70 technicians. There are a total of 270 pieces of equipment in the aircraft. Nearly all the systems in the HürKuş-A will also be used in HürKuş-B. Some minor changes have been made on the power plant system and the Pilot Recovery System. The most significant difference between HürKuş-A and HürKuş-B configuration is in the avionic equipment.

Turkish Aerospace (TA) displayed the HürKuş-C New Generation Light Attack & Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft prototype (based on HürKuş-A’s first prototype with tail number TC-VCH) in January 2017, first flight test performed in March and first live firing test with Laser UMTAS ATGM was performed on April 7, 2017. The HürKuş-C prototype was delivered to Gendarmerie General Command during the second half of 2017 under a leasing agreement. Gendarmerie General Command launched a project to procure up to 12 (6+6) HürKuş-C aircraft. During IDEF ‘17 Fair on May 11, 2017 HürKuş-C New Generation Light Attack & Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft Development and Serial Production Project contract was signed between the SSB and TA, covering the delivery of 12 (+12 optional) HürKuş-Cs to Turkish Land Forces Command. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2018.

The HürKuş-C will be integrated with EO/IR Targeting/Imaging System (on a centerline under-fuselage pylon, prototype aircraft is integrated with a Star SAFIRE® 380-HLD FLIR turret) and can carry up to 1.5 tons of payload (including Laser-UMTAS Long Range Anti Tank Guided Missiles, 12,7mm and/or 20mm gun pods, CİRİT laser-guided missiles, GBU-12, KGK-82, HGK-3 and TEBER-82/82 precision guided bombs, Mk81 and Mk82 general purpose bombs, Mk106 and BDU33 training bombs) at six hardpoints under the wings. The HürKuş-C will also be equipped with night vision compatible fully digital cockpit, a tactical data-link system, secure communication system, self-protection system, and an armor-reinforced airframe.

As for the technical characteristics, with a wingspan of 10m, the plane has a wing height of 2.16m, the vertical tail height of 3.7m.  It is powered by a 1.600shp P&W Canada PT-6A-68T turboprop engine, cabin pressure is available and it has two tandem cockpits. As for the performance parameters, it has been detected that the maximum travel speed of the aircraft is 310 knots  (574km/h), the stall speed is 77 knots (143km/h), the service ceiling is 34,700ft (10.577m), its endurance time is up to 4 hours and 15 minutes, its flight range is 800 nautical miles (1,478km), the takeoff distance is 1,605ft (489m), its landing distance is 1,945ft (593m) and G limits are +7/-3.5G. The HürKuş-A, B and C aircraft are equipped with Martin-Baker’s MK T-16N ejection seats. The contract for the HürKuş-B Aircraft was signed in July 2014 during the Farnborough Air Show.

E. F-16C/D Block 30 Structural Upgrade and ÖZGÜR Projects

The F-16 Block 30 Structural Upgrade Project was launched in order to increase service life of the 35 F-16C/D Block 30 Aircraft’ in the inventory of the TurAF from its original 8,000 flight hours to 12,000 flight hours. The F-16 Block 30 Aircraft in the TurAF service already have flown over 7,000 flight hours as of 2016, these aircraft are quite work-worn in respect to their fuselage endurance.

The contract for the Project was signed between the SSB and Prime Contractor TA on 10 August 2015.  Lockheed Martin (LM) Company takes part as the Main Subcontractor in the Project while the 1st Air Maintenance Factory Directorate (1st AMFD) was assigned for the modernization of 10 aircraft out of 35. 

The structural upgrade kits developed by LM were planned to be installed initially on the single-seat and twin-seat F-16 Block 30 aircraft and the structural upgrade activities on the prototype aircraft were planned to be completed by October or November 2017. Then the flights for verification would be conducted with these two prototypes in 2017 and the structural upgrade activities on the remaining 33 aircraft would be launched had these flights been completed successfully. TA has also carried out negotiations for maintaining the cooperation established for the TurAF Block 30 aircraft with the LM Company on other Block 30 aircraft in the world. According to the information dated June 2017 on the official website of SSB, the modernization of the first batch F-16C/D Block 30 aircraft were planned to be completed by the end of 2018 and the modernization activities for the last aircraft were planned to be finished in August 2023.

The ÖZGÜR Program was launched upon DIEC’s Decree dated December 15, 2010 in line with the requirements and demands of the TurAF, and covers the modernization and certification of an F-16C Block 30 Aircraft, which did not receive avionic upgrades under PO-III and F-16 MSM Projects, with a national avionic suite solution that contains an indigenous Mission Computer with a national Operational Flight Program (OFP) and a AESA Radar (optional). The contract signed between the SSB and Prime Contractor TA on March 6, 2012 became effective on 24 May 2012. Aselsan is the Main Subcontractor of the ÖZGÜR Program.

Launching its activities under the contract valued at US$46 Million, TA has aimed to conduct first test flight with the indigenous avionic suite solution in 3 years upon the contract’s effectivity and to deliver the first aircraft (under a 52-months schedule) to the TurAF in the 4th year. If the prototype activities were completed successfully, all of the 35 F-16C/D Block 30 aircraft in TurAF service were expected to be modernized with the avionic suite solution until the year 2020, but the activities failed to keep up with the Project Schedule. Meanwhile, within the scope of the Project a contract, valued at US$17 Million and with a 46-month schedule, was signed between TA and Aselsan on March 6, 2012 for the Development of a Mission Computer and the procurement of the related Avionic Equipment. The System Requirements Review Meeting regarding the Project was held on December 4, 2012 with the participation of the representatives from the SSB and the TurAF and the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) Phase was completed in 2013. 

The prototype F-16C Block 30 aircraft modernized under the ÖZGÜR Program and equipped with three colored Multi-Functional Displays (MFDs) and an indigenous Mission Computer on which a national Operational Flight Program (OFP) running designed and developed by Aselsan, executed nine test flights as of December 27, 2016. The software running on the Mission Computer is installed to the system in blocks towards different task capabilities (air-to-air, air- to-ground, air-to-surface, etc.). Therefore, while certain functions of the Mission Computer are presently active, some of them are not active yet. The Flight Control Computer onboard the F-16C Block 30 is not changed so the existing computer is being used as part of the Project as is. 

Even though the Project Schedule lasts for 52 months, in December 2016 the 54th month was passed, and the Project Schedule was extended to 80 months due to the delays. According to sources it is required to obtain a flight approval from the Certification Authority for every software block. In this direction, each software block is initially tested at the System Integration Laboratory (SIL), then it is installed to the prototype aircraft and the flight test is executed following the flight approval. 

According to the information we acquired, in order to accelerate this process TA has offered Aselsan to use certain programs developed as part of the ERCİYES Project in the ÖZGÜR Project. It is a fact that certain capabilities gained with the ÖZGÜR Project are not exist even at the F-16C/D Block 50+ aircraft procured under the PO-IV Project. The TurAF will make a decision on how to pursue the process after the completion of the prototype process. The capabilities gained through the ÖZGÜR Project may be implemented to the Block 40, Block 50 and Block 50+ aircraft that have separate Mission and Flight Computers, in the inventory. Therefore, merely by replacing the existing Mission Computer with the indigenous Mission Computer with national OFP software, integration of the national air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-surface missiles and ammunition systems would be possible. PO-III/F-16 MSM and PO-IV F-16C/Ds feature the same Mission Computer (MMC 7000) and OFP. Despite Turkey’s long-lasting negotiations held with the U.S. Government on sharing the source codes running at the MMC 7000 Mission Computer, a concrete agreement has not been signed yet. In the past years, an F-16 Mission Computer was procured from the LM Company and a national program to run on this computer was developed through the ÖZGÜR R&D Project. However, when LM integrated the more developed Modular Mission Computer (MMC 5000 and MMC 7000) with a lighter/ smaller and more different architecture as part of the CCIP Project of the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the possibility of the utilization of the indigenous solution computer as part of the PO-III/F-16 MSM was eliminated. 

After a very long very period of silence, since December 27, 2016, F-16C Block 30, prototype aircraft of the ÖZGÜR Program, performed a flight test on July, 2018 over Ankara skies with special permission from Turkish Presidency. During the test flight aircraft passed the speed of sound at 30,000ft altitude and its sonic boom was heard across much of the Western Ankara. According to sources, during last two years important steps have been taken under the ÖZGÜR Program and currently necessary steps are being taken to initiate the Serial Modernization Phase of the Program.

F. A400M Atlas Strategic Transport Aircraft

Within the scope of the A400M Program, Turkey declared that 10 aircraft would be procured for the TurAF and signed a contract valued at €1.496 Billion in 2003 to this end. Project amount was mentioned as €1.496 Billion in the Activity Reports of 2009 and 2010 published by the SSB and stated as €1.332 Billion in the Activity Reports regarding the years 2011 and 2013. Every A400M Atlas Strategic Transport Aircraft’s cost to Turkey was announced as €125 Million. 

The A400M joining the 221st Air Transport Fleet Command under the 12th Air Transport Main Base Command at Erkilet, Kayseri under the name ‘Atlas’ as part of the A400M Program, defined as the ESEN Project by the TurAF, is a new generation military transport aircraft capable of conducting long-range tactical and strategic transport missions. With the tasks it executed so far, the A400M Atlas proven that it has increased the limits of the TurAF. There are currently six A400M Atlas Strategic Transport Aircraft in the service of the 221st Air Transport Fleet Command. 

Following the completion of the unit level controls, the first A400M Atlas Strategic Transport Aircraft with MSN009 (Manufacturer Serial Number 009) serial number and 13-0009 tail number entered into service with a ceremony held at the 12th Air Transport Main Base Command on May 12, 2014. The 14-0013 tail and MSN0013 serial numbered second A400M Atlas Strategic Transport Aircraft was received as of December 22, 2014 and having left the Airbus Defence & Space (ADS) facilities at Seville where the acceptance activities were accomplished, the aircraft descended at the 12th Air Transport Main Base Command on December 23, 2014. The MSN009 and MSN013 went through a retrofit activity with emphasis on software and hardware (including the engine) for elevating them to the highest capability standard ready for utilization at ADS Military Aircraft’s Getafe facilities located 20km south of Spain’s capital Madrid during 2015-2016. Meanwhile, the third A400M Atlas Aircraft with MSN023 serial number manufactured for the TurAF crashed during the first test flight (Factory Acceptance Test) conducted at Seville/Spain on May 9, 2015, so in order to replace MSN023 sliding an aircraft from the production line of the other joint countries came to the agenda. The third A400M with the MSN028 serial number and 14-0028 tail number (the fourth aircraft manufactured for the TurAF yet it is the third delivered aircraft) reached the 12th Air Transport Main Base Command on November 25, 2016, while the fourth A400M tail numbered 15-0051 was received on April 7, 2017. The initial flight test of the fifth A400M Atlas Aircraft with 16-0055 tail number and MSN055 serial number was executed at San Pablo facilities of the ADS in Seville, Spain on April 18, 2017 and the acceptance of the aircraft was accomplished on July 13, 2017. The A400M Aircraft with MSN078 serial number and 18-0078 tail number conducted its maiden flight on May 16, 2018 and reached the 12th Air Transport Main Base Command on June 22, 2018. 

With the A400M Atlas aircraft’s entry into inventory, heavier weights or equipment with higher volume are able to be transported at once and the weapon systems and vehicles that could not be transported via airline would be transported to one place from another. With the A400M Atlas Strategic Transport Aircraft, the speed, range and weight carriage capacity of the TurAF has doubled. With many new capabilities it features, the A400M enables the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) to conduct operations anywhere in the world. The TurAF increased its operating radius to 3.000nm without air refueling with the A400M and to 5.000nm with air refueling. A400M aircraft is capable of flying uninterruptedly up to 3.000km distance with 37 tons of load, and to 9,000km with 10 ton load, that is equal a flight from Turkey to the American continent. The A400M Aircraft increased the TurAF’s power projection capability and reaction speed to a critical extent with the 37-ton carriage capacity and 422 knots cruise speed it features. 

A400M Atlas flight crew is composed of two pilots (Aircraft Commander and the Second Pilot) and two Load Masters. Procurement of an A400M Full Flight Simulator (FFS) with Level-D certificate is planned for the training of the pilots to be assigned at the Atlas Strategic Transport Aircrafts and activities to this end were launched. Considering the fact that the ageing C-160D Transall Aircrafts to be utilized for transportation tasks until 2019 would be put out of service as from 2020, the TurAF is expected to order additional A400Ms or other transports aircraft in similar classes (i.e. AN-188) in order to fulfill the transport aircraft requirement that would emerge for the year 2020 and afterwards. 

Within the scope of the A400M Program, which is the most critical step taken towards the integration of the Turkish Industry to the European Aerospace Industry, Turkish Aerospace (TA) and TEI (cooperates with the Spanish ITP Aero Company) from Turkey are taking part directly. Selex ES Türkiye (former Selex Communications), on the other hand, works on the A400M Lighting System as the subcontractor of TA.  TA has been attending the design and feasibility activities of the A400M Program on behalf of our country since the beginning. In response to the 10 A400Ms to be procured by Turkey, the Structural Work Package of 7.2% is under the responsibility of TA which is the partner of Airbus (the percentage of its shares is 5.56%) is composed of the following: Front Waist, Rear End Top Part, Paratrooper Doors, Emergency Exit Door, Rear Top Escape Capsule, Tail Cone, Aileron and Spoilers. The 1.26% of the System Work Package consists of the design and production of the Lighting Systems (all the interior and exterior lighting systems of the aircraft, excluding the cockpit) and the Waste/Clean Water Systems. TA design and production parts are being used over the A400Ms since the A400M MSN001 aircraft. The financial value of the work packages assumed by TA as part of the A400M Program is 6% of the project amount (cost to Turkey) and this work share exceeds €1 Billion within the whole program. According to this, over every A400M aircraft, a TA made part with an average worth €4-4.5 Million will exist. The TA, switched to Production from Design Technology from the Production from Picture Technology with the A400M Program, has shipped its 100th component set to the Integrated Fuselage Assembly (IFA) at Airbus Bremen facilities on February 16, 2018.

TEI in charge of the 2.45% of the TP400-D6 turboprop engine which powers the aircraft and is the most powerful engine developed so far in the USA and West Europe. Within the scope of the Program, TEI executes the Engine’s Front Bearing Structure Module, Propeller Gearbox Supporting Bars, Primary Exhaust Nozzle, Exhaust Cone and Project Specific Test Equipment’s design, development, prototype production, assembly, test and research and development activities. Currently 50 TEI engineers perform R&D activities particularly for the development of TP400-D6 turboprop engine. As part of the development of the modules under their responsibilities, the Company has been conducting nearly 2,500 man/month R&D activity since the beginning of the engine development process. Moreover, in the first stages of the engine development period, TEI’s R&D team of 30 engineers was assigned at ITP Aero Company’s premises in Madrid and Bilbao for a period of two years. TEI projects to acquire an export turnover of nearly €120 Million in the upcoming period within the scope of the Project. 

In accordance with the In-Service Support - ISS, the Turkish Air Forces staff will be in responsible for the aircraft’s complete Line Maintenance (1st Level), besides maintenance workshops for the certain sub components/systems such as the engine, wheels and aircraft tires will be established under the auspices of the 12th Air Transport Main Base Command in Kayseri. On the other hand, in addition to the A400M to be owned by the TurAF, in order to provide In-Service Support to the other potential future users of the A400M, a company titled Airbus Military Türkiye (AMTR) was established with the cooperation of Turkish Aerospace and Airbus Defence and Space (ADS). AMTR launched with 100% participation of the ADS started its activities in 2013. AMTR will provide all the logistical support for the A400M including aircraft level maintenance by using the capabilities of the Air Maintenance Factory Directorates (former Air Supply Maintenance Centers), Turkish Technic and other domestic industry as well. In this way, the aircraft would not need to go to Seville for Depot Level Maintenance (DLM).

During the IDEF ‘15 Fair in May 2015 ADS signed an agreement with Turkish Airlines’ MRO subsidiary; Turkish Technic to provide maintenance support for the A400M Atlas Strategic Transport Aircraft in the service of the TurAF. Under the terms of the A400M Maintenance Support Agreement, Airbus will support Turkish Technic in further developing its capability to provide long-term maintenance services (covering both second and third level maintenance support initially for the A400M fleet of the TurAF. 

Located at the 12th Air Transportation Main Base Command premises the 2nd Air Maintenance Factory Directorate (2nd AMFD, former 2nd Air Supply Maintenance Centre [ASMC], the name of facilities have been changed as 2nd Air Maintenance Factory Directorate in March 2017) has been certified by ADS to provide C-Level Overhaul service to TurAF A400Ms, following a detailed certification process conducted by ADS/AMTR personnel over a one year period. The A400M C-Level Overhaul service is being carried out at Aircraft Depot Level Maintenance & Repair (DLM&R) facilities of the 2nd AMFD. In this context, the A400M C-Level Overhaul Capacity Achievement Ceremony was held on February 22, 2018 at 12th Air Transport Main Base Command in Kayseri with the participation of the then MoND Nurettin CANİKLİ as well as TuAF and AMTR representatives. Speaking at the ceremony the then Turkish MoND CANİKLİ stated that “Our institution (referring to 2nd AMFD), having 88-years of aviation experience, has performed the repair and overhaul of A400M for the first time, which is a new generation transport aircraft, with national capacities and capabilities,” and said “By this means, we have taken another significant step in the field of aviation. Therefore, it was ensured that an average of 900,000 Euro, flowing abroad previously for each aircraft (for C-Level Overhaul), has remained in the national budget. In addition to this, the operational efficiency of our A400Ms were increased upon completion of the overhaul and repair processes in a period shorter than 2 months, which is far less than the average 6 month period abroad.”

Before Certifying the 2nd AMFD for providing C-Level Overhaul Service to A400M the ADS also authorized the 2nd AMFD as a regional support and maintenance center for Airbus CN235 aircraft on July 1, 2015 following a detailed certification process conducted over the previous year. Turkey is the world’s largest customer of CN235s with 61 aircraft order (as of July 2018 there are 49 in the TurAF, 6 in the Turkish Navy and 3 in the Turkish Coast Guard inventory, the TurAF lost 3 CN235-100Ms so far two in January and May 2001 and one in January 2018) and has accumulated a wealth of expertise in the maintenance, repair, overhaul and updating of the aircraft throughout 23 years of operations.

Meanwhile, Airbus and the Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) inked a deal on January 25, 2018 in Istanbul to further improve and expand industrial cooperation in Turkey. With the agreement, which was signed by Turkish President for Defence Industries Prof. DEMİR and Airbus Board Member and Chief Human Resources Officer Thierry BARIL the two sides agreed to expand industrial partnership in Turkey and to increase cooperation. Under the terms of agreement Airbus will continue to develop its purchases from Turkey and will purchase components worth over US$2 Billion by 2020 from Turkish suppliers. According to the agreement, Airbus will carry out purchases worth US$5 Billion between 2020 and 2030 from Turkish suppliers.

G. ERCİYES C-130B/E Avionics Modernization Program 

In accordance with the contract signed between the SSB and TA in December 2006, the avionic system of 13 C-130E and 6 C-130B aircraft of the TurAF are being modernized. First prototype (C-130E with tail number 63-13188) was delivered to the TurAF with a ceremony held on August 8, 2014 at TA’s premises. The acceptance process of the second prototype aircraft (C-130B with tail number 61-2634) took longer than planned and eventually, after acquiring the flight approval, the official acceptance was made with the acceptance flight executed in the second half of December 2016 in Kayseri.

Within the scope of the ERCİYES Avionics Modernization Program, TA performs design, integration test and check-out of the system for 2 prototypes, install 4 serial aircraft and deliver the kits for the modification of remaining 13 aircraft. Installation of these modification kits on 13 aircraft is being performed by 2nd AMFD in Kayseri. The after-delivery support of the whole system will be made by TA.

With the realization of the ERCİYES Program, TA will take a significant advantage to meet the modernization requirements of all countries that use C-130 Hercules transport aircraft. The modernized aircraft, planned to remain in the TurAF inventory until 2040, are named as C-130BM and C-130EM. The modernization activities on the remaining C-130B and C-130E Hercules transport aircraft, within the scope of the ERCİYES Program, expected to be completed by the end of 2019. 

On account of the revision made in the Program Schedule, the delivery of every C-130B/E Hercules aircraft to receive ERCİYES modernization, starting from the 2nd Series Production Aircraft (C-160BM with tail number 61-960, the fourth aircraft modernized as part of the Program) will be delivered to the TurAF following the completion of its Depot Level Maintenance & Repair (DLM&R, focusing on structure and engines) procedures performed at the 2nd AFMD in Kayseri. The integration and installation activities on avionic modernization kits over each C-130 aircraft take approximately 6 months, while the DLM&R activities take an average of 6-7 months. Since the C-130BM/EMs go through both DLM&R and avionic modernization, both TA (Turkish Aerospace) and 2nd AMFD staff work over the aircraft simultaneously. 

The C-130BM/EM Hercules Transport Aircraft are equipped with a Glass Cockpit (4 colored Multi-Functional Displays [MFDs] with Moving Map capability, 2 Central Display Units [CDUs] and 2 Multi-Functional Central Control Computers [CCCs]), Multi-Functional Mission Computer (MFTC) with high operational efficiency, National Flight Management System (FMS), Ground Task Planning Unit capable of operating with the HvBS and compatible with the international navigation regulations. The new avionic system is fully NVIS capable. The Operational Flight Program (OFP, consists approximately 3.2 million lines codes) running on the national Mission Computers (Central Control Computers) to execute the control and management of the new avionic suit at the aircraft was developed in line with the DO-178B Level - A Standard by TA engineers. Especially with the help of the glass cockpit aligned with the Night Vision Goggle (NVG), the secure navigation capability in night and day and under all types of weather conditions was acquired. In addition to this, the C-130BM and C-130EM aircraft reached the capacity to drop paratroopers and loads from low altitude under night conditions. 

The C-130BMs and C-130EMs within the scope of the Program are being equipped with the Link-16 Tactical Data Link System (via Multi-Functional Information Distribution System (MIDS) terminal). In this way, the C-130BM/EM aircraft gain the capability of executing integrated operations with the E-7T Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEWC) aircraft, modernized F-16s and ground and sea-based command control units. With the help of the Link-16, C-130BM/EM aircraft are capable of transmitting brief, core and confidential information in cosmic level to both ground (air - to - ground) and air (air - to - air) units. 

In standard configuration C-130B and E Hercules operates a crew of five people composed of two Pilots, a Navigation Officer (Navigators), a Flight Engineer and a Load Master. Thanks to Flight Management System (FMS) software developed by TA engineers as part of the ERCIYES Program, that replaced the Navigation Officer, the number of crew fell to four at the modernized C-130BM/EM Hercules.

On the other hand, with an amendment made in the ERCİYES Program Contract in 2013, two C-130BM/EMs were planned to be converted into GunShip (armed aircraft) configuration, but there has been no concrete progress in this field during recent years.

H. MELTEM-III Project and ATR-72/600 TMPA

With the MELTEM-III Project which is the last one of the MELTEM Programs with the approximate value of US$218.7 Million [€180 Million, the cost of the AMASCOS-300 Mission System procured under the MELTEM-II Project is not included in this figure, merely the aircraft procurement, structural modification, test and certification costs are covered] two ATR-72/600 utility aircraft in TMUA (Turkish Maritime Utility Aircraft) configuration entered the inventory (inducted into Turkish Navy service in July and August 2013) in 2013. 

Within the scope of the Project, further six ATR-72/600 Maritime Patrol (M/P) Aircraft with Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti Surface Warfare (ASuW) capabilities will be also procured. According to the official website of the Turkish Naval Forces Command (TNFC), the delivery of six ATR-72/600 Turkish Maritime Patrol Aircraft (TMPA) will take place during 2019 — 2020. The structural modification activities on the ATR-72/600 Utility Aircraft with tail numbers TCB701 and TCB702 were performed by the Prime Contractor Alenia Aermacchi/Leonardo at Napoli-Capodichino and Torino-Caselle facilities and to this end the aircraft were equipped with new radio sets and an IFF system.

The contract of the Meltem-III Project, covering the procurement of a total of 6 ATR-72/600 aircraft and their modification into ASW and ASuW configuration for the Turkish Navy was signed between Alenia Aermacchi S.p.A and Turkish Aerospace (TA) on July 2012. The agreement is an amendment to a previous deal signed on July 20, 2005 and became effective in April 2006 between Alenia and the Turkish Government for the delivery of 10 ATR-72/500 ASW aircraft to the Turkish Navy. Within the framework of the Project, as Main Sub-Contractor of Alenia/Leonardo, all related modification activities to convert the ‘green’ ATR-72/600 in ATR-72/600 TMPA will be carried out at TA’s facilities. TA’s work share includes Kit-A and tools manufacturing, procurement of material and support equipment, structural and electrical modification, assembly, test, Ground Flight Support and Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) activities.

According to original schedule, upon the completion of the certification and acceptance tests the first of the six ATR-72/600 TMPAs was planned to be delivered to the Turkish Navy in February 2017. The remaining five TMPAs were intended to be delivered by the end of 2018’s first quarter. However, the first ATR-72/600 green aircraft to receive Structural Modification could only arrived at TA’s facilities on April 19, 2013 and modification efforts have been launched in the same year. Following the completion of the Structural Modification (covering the integration of Airborne Maritime Situation Control System-300 [AMASCOS-300] mission equipment and converting the green aircraft into an MPA with ASW capabilities) activities, first aircraft accomplished its maiden flight on July 14, 2016 and was sent to Torino/ Italy for the execution of the certification tests by the Italian Certification Authority (DAAA) and Finmeccanica, on the same day. The second aircraft was sent to Torino, Italy in April 2017 upon the completion of the Structural Modification. The flight tests are being executed at the Flight Test Center of the Alenia Aermacchi/Leonardo Company in Torino. 

The delivery date of the first ATR-72/600 TMPA was later postponed to May 2017, but due to the difficulties arising during the certification tests, the aforesaid delivery could not be actualized. At a press meeting held on May 10, 2017 during IDEF ‘17 Fair in response to our question on whether the first ATR-72/600 Turkish Maritime Patrol Aircraft would be delivered to the Turkish Naval Forces in May, the Vice President of Leonardo in charge of Strategy, Markets and Business Development Giovanni SOCCODATO told that due to the delays occurred in the certification process, the delivery would be accomplished in the second half of 2017.

Meanwhile, procured within the scope of the MELTEM-III Project, eight of the ten AMASCOS-300 Mission System sets to be utilized at the ATR-72/600 TMPA platforms powered with two PW127M turboprop engines produced by P&W Canada were received as of April 2014, and the remaining 2 AMASCOS-300 Mission System sets were delivered in September/ October 2014. Six of the aforesaid Mission Systems will be utilized in the 6 ATR-72/600 aircraft to be delivered in Turkish Maritime Patrol Aircraft (TMPA) configuration, while the remaining four would be stored in order to be used as backups for securing the lifetime maintenance and operation of the AMASCOS-300 Mission System deployed at both at the P-235 (CN235-100M) and ATR-72/600 TMPA Maritime Patrol Aircraft of the Turkish Navy. 

While the P-235 MPAs, equipped with Link-11 Tactical Data Link System, are able to carry Mk46 Lightweight Torpedo and Depth Bombs at the external hardpoints/pylons under the wings, the ATR-72/600 ASW/ASuW aircraft can carry the weapon load on two pylons at the fuselage sides (lack the underwing pylons for external payload due to their wing designs) will additionally feature the Link-16 Tactical Data Link and Mk54 Lightweight Torpedo capabilities. Via the Link-11 Tactical Data Link System operating at the HF band, data communication could be conducted up to the range of 200km+ at the Line of Sight (LoS). The engineering support required for the integration of the Mk46 Mode 5 and Mk54 Lightweight Torpedoes to ATR-72/600 TMPAs is provided by the Raytheon Company. To this end, a contract worth US$5.7 Million was signed between the Main Contractor Alenia Aermacchi and Raytheon in July 2014. 

The AMASCOS-300 Airborne Maritime Situation Control System deployed both at CN235-100M (P-235) and ATR-72/600 ASW/ASuW aircraft, featuring a total of four operator consoles (Radar Operator, Tactical Coordination Officer [TacCo], Acoustics Operator and Electronic Warfare (EW) and Communication Operator) and includes: Ocean Master 400 Search Radar with a range of 190nm, in 400W power and with SAR/ISAR/SPOT-SAR/STRIP-SAR/MMTI capabilities, the AselFLIR 200T FLIR System enabling the identification of surface contacts up to 35nm range, Sonobuoy Launcher, TMS-200 Active/Passive Sonobuoy Processing System (for the sonobuoys, capable of listening to 16 sonobuoys simultaneously), TCAS II Air Traffic Collision Avoidance System, DR-3000 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) [functions also as an RWR), AN/ASQ-508(V) Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD) with an antenna length of 4.5m and an antenna weighing nearly 50kg, Link-11/Link-16 Tactical Data Link Systems, LN-100G INS/GPS, ARS-700 Airborne Rescue System, APX-113 IFF System and Aselsan’s ASES-235 EW Integrated Self-Protection System containing the AN/AAR-60 MILDS MWS and four AN/ALE-47 CMDS Launchers. Three million lines software was developed for the real-time AMASCOS-300 Mission System within the scope of the Program. The Ocean Master 400 Radar with a mechanically rotated antenna array is capable of detecting a submarine periscope from a 30nm range and an altitude of 1,000ft under favorable weather conditions, and a patrol boat from a 90nm range and 6,000ft altitude within an area of 100 square meters.  

I. Liaison and General-Purpose Aircraft (GPA) Project

The Turkish Land Forces and the Turkish Police are looking for new assets that are to enhance their mobility and capability to support critical operations, but at the same time flexible enough to be used also for operations to support humanitarian crises, Medical Evacuation Missions (MEDEVAC) and also capable of VIP and passenger transport.

To this end, SSB has launched a tender in 2016 to procure a total of 9 Liaison and General-Purpose Aircraft (GMU/GPA), 6 for the Turkish land Forces and 3 for the Turkish Police. The Request for Proposal (RFP) document prepared as part of the Project was published by the SSB on June 21, 2016. The bidders were asked to submit their proposals to the Department of Aircraft at the SSB until August 19, 2016. However, the proposal submission deadline was extended five times by the SSB during August 19, 2016 and December 29, 2017. Leonardo is offering C-27J Spartan and ADS is offering C295 to meet both Turkish Army and Turkish Police requirements. In order to provide first hand information on C-27J Spartan to Turkish Media, Leonardo has organized a press tour to the Italian Air Force (IAF)’s Pisa Air Base, from where IAF operates their C-27Js in October 2017. During the event Turkish media representatives had find a chance to see C-27J with their eyes and to have information about its operational capabilities from their pilots.

According to the information we acquired, the Liaison and GPA to be procured for the Turkish Army are required to have the capability to carry the blades of the CH-47F Chinook Heavy Lift Helicopters, the deliveries of which were launched to the Turkish Army in July 2016. As the length of each of the six blades at the CH-47F Helicopter is 914.4 cm (360 inches), the aircraft to be procured in this case need to have a cabin length of minimum 9.5m and a rear ramp that would assist the easy embarkation and disembarkation of both the passengers and the cargo load. 

The C-27J Spartan is a new generation tactical airlifter with great market success, with 82 aircraft already sold to 14 operators across five continents. The Spartan is a twin-turboprop tactical airlifter with state-of-the-art technologies in avionics, propulsion system and other on-board systems. Thanks to its very versatile design, the C-27J is ideal for roles including troop and materials transport, medical evacuation, paratroop and materials airdrops, search and rescue (SAR), logistic supply, humanitarian support, firefighting and civil emergency operations support. Purpose-designed kits also allow VIP transport and other missions. The C-27J has a large cargo box, capable of supporting almost 5 tons per square meter. The aircraft can carry pallets or platforms weighing up to 6,000 kilos, or 60 equipped soldiers, 46 fully equipped paratroops, 36 stretchers or other combinations up to 32,500 kilos maximum takeoff weight. The aircraft can operate from airstrips under 500 meters. 

The Airbus C295 is a new generation tactical airlifter in the light and medium segment. It is robust and reliable but also highly versatile in terms of the number of different missions it can perform. In total the ADS received 206 orders as of July 2018 and completed deliveries of 167 C295s. The aircraft is noted for its short takeoff and landing capability on semi-prepared runways and for the large payload capacity of 9,250kgs. The landing and takeoff run of just 320m and 670m allow the aircraft access to runways close to operational or crisis areas or where supplies and troops are needed.

J. Stand-Off Jammer and SIGINT Aircraft Programs

The Stand-Off Electronic Support/Electronic Attack (ES/EA) Capability at Air Platform (Air SOJ) Project, which previously assigned to Aselsan as a single source (in 2009) upon the Decree of the DIEC, covers the procurement of a modern airborne stand-off ES/EA system capable of jamming the early warning and air Defence radars and enemy communication systems of the enemy thus preventing or postponing the detection, identification and interception of the TurAF’s attacking fighter/bombers by the enemy especially in cross-border operations. Under the Air SOJ Project, Aselsan would deliver a total of four Stand-Off Jammer Aircraft, one prototype and three serial production models. 

The negotiations had been held for many long years between Aselsan (Submitted its proposal on May 15, 2013 to the SSB) and the SSB focused on the costs and shortening the project schedule instead of the technical issues. Aselsan has been continuing its activities to launch the Air SOJ Project with optimum duration and costs. Since the demand is quite immediate, the duration is quite critical. The contract regarding the Project was expected to be signed in the first quarter of 2016 but the activities failed to keep up with this schedule.

In the meantime, while Aselsan has engaged in talks with foreign business jet manufacturers (Turkey had previously considered adapting the A400M Atlas for this role) to build a stand-off jammer (SOJ) system, in early 2015 SSB has launched a parallel program dubbed as GÖLGE (Shadow) to procure similar systems, but covers only two Stand-Off Jammer Aircraft, from a foreign supplier to meet urgent requirements. The Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) announced that the new program would involve “production, delivery and acceptance of the systems; installation and integration of mission equipment into the systems; construction of barracks and buildings; test and assessment of the systems; maintenance, repairs, technical support, spare parts; supply of ground support equipment and their spare parts and overall training.” Under the GÖLGE/Shadow Project a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued by the SSB to the potential local and foreign bidders who were asked to reply no later than February 23, 2015.

The SSB shortlisted four companies (U.S. based Tempus Applied Solutions, Savronik Elektronik Sanayi, Aselsan, and Duygu Havacilik ve Savunma Sanayi) under the GÖLGE Project and following the proposal evaluation process Tempus Applied Solutions was announced as the winner of the tender. However, due to the financial difficulties that Tempus Applied Solutions Company experienced at that time, it was understood that the Company would not be able to accomplish the Project and contract negotiations were launched in 2015 with the second company at the short list, Savronik Elektronik Sanayi (cooperating with Ultra Electronics). Savronik was supposed to integrate the Air SOJ System on two Bombardier Global Express business jets with the Ultra Electronics it cooperated with as part of the Project and to deliver them to the TurAF. The GÖLGE Air SOJ System was expected to cost approximately US$250 Million. However, since negotiations with Savronik has not been concluded with a contract award, with a DIEC resolution adopted at November 2, 2017 meeting the GÖLGE Project, which was launched in order to fulfill the urgent requirement but could not be elevated to the signing stage was cancelled and fulfilling all the requirements over Aselsan was decided upon. 

Aselsan and the SSB have been carrying out contractual negotiations under the Air SOJ Project since then. The Air SOJ contract was scheduled to be signed in the first quarter of 2018 and the deliveries were expected to take place during 2023 - 2025.  Aselsan’s Airborne Stand-Off Jammer System will feature long range detecting and jamming capability with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology, wide band frequency coverage, high power jamming output, precise direction finding and geo-location for radar and communication signals and to be integrated on a business jet (probably either on the GulfStream G-550 [the Stand-Off Jammer Aircraft mock-up displayed by the Company is based on G-550] or on the Bombardier Global 6000). The Stand-Off Jammer Aircraft to be procured under Air SOJ project will replace existing MilKar-2U RF Jammer Aircraft (based on C-160D Transall transport aircraft and could also perform COMINT and IMINT roles) in the service of the TurAF.

In order to meet next generation SIGINT (with ELINT and COMINT capability) Aircraft requirement of the Signal Intelligence Directorate (former Electronic Systems [GES] Command of the Turkish General Staff) of the Presidency of National Intelligence Organization (MIT, which reports directly to the Presidency since August 2017), SSB launched SIGINT Aircraft (SU) Project in 2016. Aselsan assigned as the Prime Contractor for the SU Project and in December 2016 a contract was signed between Aselsan and Field Aviation of Canada for the joint development of a new Special Mission Aircraft based on the Bombardier Challenger 605 business jet. Aselsan engineers participated the structural modification on Challenger 605 (CL-605) aircraft in Canada. Aselsan also purchased a second CL-605 aircraft in poor condition and almost not airworthy to utilize at ground test at its test facilities in Gölbek, Ankara and installed the aircraft fuselage on test tower after dismantling its engines and avionic equipment in 2017. The first CL-605 based SIGINT aircraft is expected to be ready for delivery by late 2018 or early 2019.

Currently there are three CN235-100M SIGINT aircraft equipped with a pair of Aselsan’s MILSIS-23U ELINT/SIGINT Pods (on underwing pylons) along with other mission equipment in MIT service. In January 2012, when the GES Command of the TGS was transferred to the MIT along with other assets three CN235-100M SIGINT aircraft were also transferred to MIT property. However even though they belong to MIT, the CN235-100M SIGINT aircraft are still operated by the TurAF pilots