Within the coverage of the Peace Onyx IV Program, TAI and Lockheed Martin companies delivered the first of the 30 F16 50 aircraft to be produced at the

Date: Issue 29 - July 2011

Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of National Defence M. Vecdi Gönül stated that as the most important factor in balance and stability for national defence security and regional peace and in order to increase its effectiveness and deterrence capability, the Turkish Armed Forces had again taken one step further and that we had gathered here to share the results of this. Emphasizing that since it first began to be employed in Turkey from 1987 until now, the F-16 aircraft that made up the foundation of the combat strength of the Turkish Air Force and which celebrated is 100th founding year undertook its duties with a high degree of war preparedness in an effective manner and that during a span of over two decades some of the aircraft were put out of service for various reasons and that the other F-16s in the inventory were included within the coverage of modernization in order to be equipped with systems more adoptable and more advanced to changing technologies. Gönül further added that there was no allocation in their budget for these 30 F-16 aircraft and that at the beginning they had decided on the modernization of the 48 F-4s in the second package in the inventory, but that after our officers and engineers proved that the F-4s could be modernized in Turkey this project turned into a success story. As a result of these savings from this allocation, Gönül emphasized that it became possible to obtain the new F-16 50 Plus’ and that at the beginning it was foreseen that these aircrafts would be produced in the United States and purchased through direct procurement but that, as with the other projects being carried out, the effective participation of the defence industry in this project was given priority and in line with this, as a result of the negotiations with the U.S. government as well as Lockheed Martin, agreement was reached on the participation of the Turkish defence industry in this project. Indicating that the final production and testing procedures for the 30 F-16 Block 50 aircraft would take place by TAI in Ankara, Gönül said, “negotiations are on-going with Lockheed Martin on the subject of the production and delivery of F-16s from the production lines in Turkey to other countries that might be on the agenda in the period ahead. Stating that in the long run this project would be an opportunity for Turkish firms, Gönül emphasized that, “This project is very important in terms of an example of a successful partnership and cooperation between the governments of the two countries.” Minister Gönül also indicated that they were very happy to have included the most advanced and newest F-16s to the fleet of the Turkish Air Force.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Executive VP of Aeronautics at Lockheed Martin Ralph D. Heath stated that the Lockheed Martin Corporation attached great value to the partnership established with the Turkish Government and said, “We await with impatience the continuation of this partnership with the JSF/F35 Multinational Joint Strike Force Program.”
In his remarks TAI Chairman of the Board of Directors Yalç?n Kaya said that with the participation of Turkish engineers and technicians they had undertaken an enormously agreeable, successful cooperation with the Lockheed Martin Corporation and thereby they had delivered the first aircraft before the foreseen calendar date. Kaya underlined that with the July delivery date, they has worked with the principal contractor Lockheed Martin and the Air Force Command’s project control office day and night and realized the project two months prior to the program calendar date in order to participate in the 100th anniversary activities of the Air Force Command. Indicating that they always kept customer satisfaction at the forefront, Kaya said that TAI and the Lockheed Martin Corporation had targeted their cooperation beyond the existing F-16 program. Aside from the delivery of the first aircraft, Kaya added that they had one aircraft at TAI undergoing flight tests and eight aircraft on the assembly line and went on to add: “We plan to deliver an additional five aircraft by the end of this year and the remaining twenty four aircraft through the end of next year in line with the Program calendar.”
In the ceremony a symbolic key was presented by the TAI test pilot to the commander of the ‘Ceylan Fleet’ at the 4th Main Jet Base Command where the first F-16 will be assigned. At the end of the ceremony Minister Gönül and U.S. Ambassador Ricciardone closely viewed the F-16 that was taken out from the hanger. TAI General Manager Muharrem Dörtka?l? presented a plaque of appreciation to TAI’s former senior partner Turkish Aircraft Industry Corporation’s founding General Manager and Chairman of the Board of Directors Saim Dilek and TAI’s first General Manager Jerry R. Jones.
Having more advanced features compared to the Block 30, 40 and 50 aircraft, the F-16 Block 50 Plus is described as the most advanced of the F-16 aircraft. Equipped with new generation avionic, weapon and electronic systems and with fuel tanks assembled to the body thereby providing an increased operations range, the F-16 Block 50 Plus will have the capability for uninterrupted day and night operations under all types of weather conditions for the Air Force Command. The total project cost is 1.7 billion dollars and the delivery of the first aircraft will take place in September 2011 after the first modernization has been completed. The other aircrafts are expected to be in the inventory of the Turkish Air Force during the course of 2012.