The defense industry Implementation Committee (SSİK), which convened on Thursday at the building of the undersecretariat for Defense Industry in Ankara, authorized the Defense Ministry Undersecretariat to order the purchase of two F-35 fighter jets to meet the Turkish Armed Forces' (TSK) need for new generation fighter jets. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan chaired the meeting, which was attended by Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) head Murad Bayar and other defense industry authorities.
The committee said it will also start contract talks with Bell Helicopter Textron for the purchase of 15 helicopters for the country's police force.
Turkey announced in March 2011 that the planned purchase of fighter jets from the US was put on hold because the Pentagon refused to share the source code used in the software designed for the aircraft as well as the codes that might be used externally to activate the planes.
The purchase comes as part of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, an internationally oriented program consisting of partnerships with a number of countries. Turkey is expected to purchase 100 F-35s as part of the project, worth $16 billion. While the US is the primary customer and financial backer of the program, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark are other participatory counties.
Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding on Turkey's involvement in the production process of new generation F-35 warplanes in 2007. The decision to buy the new generation fighter planes came at a time when numerous other countries, including Denmark, Holland and Canada, have suspended their orders.