Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Cancel F-35 Deal with Turkey / Turkey to Order New F-35 Lightning II Jets

In 1972, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Tehran and promised the Shah “a blank check” for military arms. Iran soon became the only country besides the United States to fly the F-14, which was, at the time, the top U.S. fighter jet.
Within just a couple years, however, Iran was in the throes of revolution and Islamist dictatorship. Whereas once Iranian officials chatted with their American counterparts at embassy functions and even state dinners, now Iranian officials held American diplomats hostage and sponsored terrorism abroad. Iran may have become an implacable foe of the United States but, for the first few years of the Islamic Republic’s existence, it nevertheless had America’s top aircraft technology at its disposal.
Fast-forward to the present day. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is the U.S. military’s next-generation platform. For diplomatic reasons more than necessity, the manufacture of many of its parts was outsourced to NATO members. On the plus side, this became a jobs program for many NATO members and encouraged them to place orders that, in theory, lessened the price for manufacture. On the negative side, however, there is the sharing of the technology.
Historically, that would not have been a problem with NATO members, all of whom from a defense perspective at least read from the same page. Today, however, there is the problem of Turkey, which participated in the construction of some less sensitive parts and seeks to buy the entire platform. It has just announced that it will take delivery of the first batch of F-35As in 2018 with another order to follow.
The United States should cancel Turkey’s order, even if that means a financial loss for the planes’ manufacturers. Turkey is in a crisis, which threatens its fundamental orientation. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has purged 41 NATO officers out of the 50 which Turkey had assigned to the defense alliance before the coup. In recent months, Erdoğan has also tilting increasingly toward Russia. Rumors abound in Turkish military and diplomatic circles that on the agenda in Erdoğan’s most recent talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin was a more permanent military relationship, including perhaps a leased Russian presence in Mersin. At the very least, Turkey’s recent dealings with ChinaRussia, and Iran, as well as the more fundamental tilt in its foreign policy away from the West and toward a more rejectionist and Islamist camp, are cause for concern. So, too, is Turkey’s emphasis on its own indigenous arms industry, its ability to reverse engineer weapons systems, and its willingness to leak intelligence out of spite.
Providing F-35s to Turkey has greater strategic consequence than allowing the Islamic Republic of Iran to purchase Boeings, and will have potentially far longer repercussions. It should have been stopped six years ago, but Congress did not act. It’s time for Congress to rectify that mistake, step up and throw a wrench in the provision of any F-35s to Turkey. To go ahead with delivery would risk the technology leaking to China, Russia, and Iran and, perhaps, being used against Americans.
Original post: commentarymagazine.com

Turkey to Order New F-35 Lightning II Jets
By: Burak Ege Bekdil, October 31, 2016

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s top defense procurement panel has agreed to officially order a second batch of F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft under the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program. 

Friday's meeting of the Defense Industry Executive Committee (SSIK in its Turkish acronym) brought together Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, Defence Minister Fikri Isik and Army Gen. Hulusi Akar, chief of the General Staff. SSIK is Turkey’s top authority in procurement matters. 

Under the JSF program, Turkey has committed to procure a total of 116 aircraft. Turkey placed its first JSF order in 2014 under its low-rate initial production 10 program. 

Turkey’s procurement and military officials are hoping to build a new-generation, dual-fighter jet fleet by their country’s centennial, 2023, comprising of the F-35 and an indigenous aircraft, known as TFX, that Ankara has been designing. Turkey hopes to receive its first F-35 in 2018. 

SSIK said in a news release after the meeting that panel members discussed a total of 12 different programs, including JSF. 

One program discussed at the meeting is a plan for the procurement of two command and control aircraft. Earlier this year, Turkey’s procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM in its Turkish acronym) launched an international competition for the program. SSM said the planned aircraft should accommodate 12 passengers. 

Aerospace industry sources expect the price tag with the contract to be anywhere between $50 million and $100 million, depending on the Turkish military's configuration requirement. The planned aircraft will be used as VIP business jets for the Turkish military, with command and control capabilities for the top military brass.  

In 2006, the Turkish military selected Gulfstream G550 for the same mission. In 2008, it decided to buy two G550 aircraft. 

At the Friday meeting, SSIK decided to task THY Teknik, the repair and maintenance subsidiary of Turkey’s national carrier, Turkish Airlines, with administering the command and control aircraft program. 

SSIK also said it decided to procure more vessels for the Turkish navy, although it did not detail the number or type of ships on its shopping list. 

The panel said it authorized SSM to launch a contest for the modernization of a batch of 25 Seahawk helicopters in the Navy’s inventory. In November 2006, Turkey ordered its last package of S-70B Seahawk helicopters from Sikorsky Aircraft. The S-70B helicopter is an international derivative of the US Navy's SH-60B Seahawk, but includes a fully integrated glass (digital) cockpit and a mission management system. 

SSIK said some of the other programs its members discussed on Friday include the Integrated Maritime Surveillance System (IMSS) program; the foundation of a cybersecurity and defense center; electronic warfare command, control and coordination efforts; a national joint electronic warfare data bank; new-generation light-armored vehicles; procurement of portable jammers; and electronic support systems. 

One procurement official said the meeting marked the first serious effort to give pace to Turkey’s modernization and acquisition programs after a putsch on July 15 brought the procurement and military bureaucracy to a near standstill. 

“Finally the shock is over and things are picking up,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “SSIK convened with a heavy agenda and both the government and military leaders look determined to get things done without further delays.” 

One Defence Ministry official said: “The first [post-coup attempt] meeting was important. Preceding meetings will discuss other major programs, including TFX.”

Original post: defensenews.com