Spotlight: Removal from F-35 program temporary blow to Turkish defense industry, air defense capacity

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-19 16:36:26|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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ANKARA, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Turkish defense companies may face temporary losses after Washington's decision to exclude Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program and the country has to replenish its air defense inventory, according to local experts.

Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems has led to the termination of Ankara's involvement with the F-35 program by March 2020, the White House announced on Wednesday.

According to a Pentagon statement, the Turkish suppliers, which provide more than 900 parts for F-35, would no longer receive nine billion U.S. dollars in projected work share over the life of the program.

"Our companies may face losses initially, and even though issues like sanctions and more may lead to temporary losses for the defense industry, we think it will result in our defense industry becoming stronger," the head of Turkey's Defense Industries Ismail Demir said.

Turkish defense companies will evaluate how to compensate for their losses, Demir said, adding that if the U.S. excludes Turkey from the program, the cost of the F-35s for other partners will increase 7-8 million dollars per aircraft.

Elaborating on Turkey's roadmap for replacement of the F-35 jets, Demir said "Turkey will continue to evaluate alternatives," adding the country will accelerate its national combat aircraft project.

Turkey had been making its mid-and-long-term air defense strategies on the plans of procurement of F-35 aircraft, 5th generation fighter jets, said Naim Baburoglu, retired general and academician from Aydin University.

He underlined that Turkey has to find alternatives for its fighter jet inventory if the country fails to receive F-35 jets.

Ankara planned to buy more than 100 F-35 fighter jets, a number that was likely to grow. A handful of them had been scheduled to transport to Turkey in November.

Turkey currently relies on U.S.-built F-16 aircraft for its air defense, but they will soon expire, therefore the Turkish government has to renew its jets and extend their expiration date, he said.

Given the fact that countries in the region such as Israel, and other major NATO countries have been procuring the 5th generation fighter jets, Turkey also must include this technology into its air defense systems, he said, adding that F-16 aircraft will not be equivalent to these technologies.

Baburoglu noted that Turkey's plans for production of national combat aircraft would realize only in 2030.