After seven years of delay, the Turkish military received its first delivery on Friday of a Boeing-made Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) platform aircraft at Konya Air Base, as a part of a $1.5 billion project to modernize its air force.
Speaking at the ceremony at the air base, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Turkey needs to strengthen its defense measures more than ever due to the turbulent geopolitical nature of its region.
Erdoğan also announced that Turkey has finalized a $3.5 billion contract with US aircraft manufacturer Sikorsky for the purchase of multiple purpose helicopters after one-and-a-half years of negotiations. The deal stipulates that 109 helicopters -- based on a design derivative of the Black Hawk -- will be delivered by Sikorsky. The helicopters are to be custom designed according to Turkey's needs, weighing 10 tons and with the capacity to carry 18 staff.
Also attending the ceremony, President Abdullah Gül said the AEW&Cs would play a significant role guaranteeing the security of southern Europe.
It was reported recently that as part of Project Peace Eagle, carried out by the Turkish Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM), Boeing agreed to provide Ankara with additional compensation due to delays in deliveries. Boeing will increase the project's initial support period from two to five years and give software support for three years, along with auxiliary equipment amounting to $32 billion.
Mark Ellis, Project Peace Eagle's manager for Boeing, released a press statement on Feb. 10, saying that the project “is an example of great cooperation between the Turkish government and their excellent Turkish industry teammates.” The statement mentioned Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the Air Electronics Industry (Havelsan), Turkish Airlines (THY) and MiKES as companies involved. "What's more, the aircraft can be used immediately because initial training for mission system operators, maintenance crews and pilots has been completed,” the statement continued.
The statement also revealed that “Two more AEW&C aircraft are to be delivered this year, with the fourth in 2015. In addition to the aircraft, the Peace Eagle program includes ground support segments for mission crew training, mission support and system maintenance.”
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and US Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone also attended the delivery ceremony.