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Defense industry gains $3 billions workshare within JSF

8 February 2007, Thursday /LALE SARIİBRAHİMOĞLU
Turkey's TUSAŞ Aerospace Industries (TAI) and US Northrop Grumman Corp. signed a letter of intent (LOI) on Tuesday in Ankara under which TAI will supply 400 F-35 Lightning II (US Lockheed Martin developed Joint Strike Fighters-JSF) center fuselages as a secondary source to Northrop Grumman.

The deal is worth around $3 billion dollars, said a statement released on Tuesday by both TAI and Northrop Grumman.

TAI-Northrop Grumman deal became possible when Turkish National Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül signed in Washington on 25 January, the Production, Sustainment and Follow-on Development (PSFD) memorandum of understanding (MoU) for participation in the next stage of  Lockheed Martin's F-35 JSF project.  Under MOU, Turkey intends to buy initially 100 JSFs projected to cost around $10,5 billion and Lockheed Martin pledged up to $5 billion workshare to the Turkish local industry as part of JSF.

Turkey, being one of eight countries involved in the design of the F-35, plans to replace F-16 fighters with JSFs in 2010 and onwards.

Under the letter of intent, TAI will provide a minimum of 400 center fuselages for the JSF.  Northrop is a subcontractor for F-35 series fuselages. TAI is scheduled to deliver the first center fuselage in 2012.

The LOI was signed by TAI Chairman of the Board retired Maj. Gen. Hasan Peker Günal and General Manager Muharrem Dörtkaşlı on behalf of TAI and the Northrop Grumman Sector Vice President for Tactical Systems and F-35 Program Manager Janis G. Pamiljans on behalf of NGISS International, Inc.

“With the LOI, a strong strategic cooperation, which will last at least for 20 years, will be established between TAI and Northrop Grumman. The infrastructural investments that will be made at TAI for the JSF center fuselage production program, is believed to make TAI one of the few aerospace companies that have such capabilities. With the JSF work packages, TAI will not only contribute to Turkey’s economy, but also provide employment opportunities for approximately 500 engineers and technicians for the next 20 year,” said the TAI statement.

TAI General Manager Muharrem Dörtkaşlı also stated during the LOI signing ceremony, held in Ankara on Feb. 6 at Hilton hotel, that TAI will become one of the few countries in the world in the production of high precision advanced technology composite part for JSF to be manufactured at plants to become operational at TAI facilities next year, under the LOI signed with Northrop Grumman.

Turkish military to increase operational effectiveness

Defense Minister Gönül, speaking during the ceremony stated that Turkey’s participation in the JSF project together with the other participants will bring very important advantages for Turkey.

“F-35s will increase considerably the operational effectiveness and the deterrence of the Turkish Armed Forces,” Gönül said.

Murat Bayar, Undersecretary of the Turkish Defense Industries Undersecratariat (SSM), the country’s one of two military procurement agencies, said during the same ceremony that Turkey expects around $4.3 billion worth of contribution to the local industry in the coming 25 years including the LOI signed between TAI and Northrop Grumman.

In a separate deal, Murat Bayar and Lockheed Martin Vice President Bob Bolz signed the $4.3 billion industrial participation agreement under JSF project. The biggest portion of this $4.3 billion industrial participation agreement would be realized by TAI under the LOI signed for TAI to become a second source to Northrop Grumman in the production of center fuselages for JSF, Bayar stated.

“Turkey’s participation in the JSF program from the very beginning has proven that our choice of  JSF have been rational and prudent that will make Turkey a partner country in the project both from the state side and from the side of the local industrialization. It would become possible that Turkey will finally reach to a workshare worth around $5 to $6 billion within the JSF,” he said.

Turkey joined the JSF program as Level III (The system development and demonstration (SDD) phase partner in 2002.

US Ambassador to Turkey Ross Wilson, taking the floor, stated that US-Turkish cooperation on JSF project reflected the two countries’ strong alliance that began almost exactly sixty years ago with the enunciation of the Truman Doctrine by the US’s 33rd president in March 1947. 

“Turkey has long been a major buyer of US defense equipment, and it has benefited from those purchases.  But to the extent this was ever a mere “producer/consumer” relationship, that ceased long ago - to the benefit of the common interests of our two countries,” Wilson added.

“Turkey was one of a few countries to become a strategic partner in the development of this revolutionary fighter.  With a purchase of 100 aircraft, Turkey will also be the fourth largest purchaser after the United States, the United Kingdom, and Italy.  Its participation in this program as a producer and a consumer will open new doors for Turkish industry.  At the same time, our two countries will strengthen our common defense for the future.”

Meanwhile Turkey plans to finalize the acquisition of 51 attack helicopters as well as the production of 250 main battle tanks during a meeting of the SSM Executive Committee planned to take place in March.

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