Lockheed Martin rolled out the first two F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft of the Turkish Air Force during a ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas on June 21, 2018.
The first two Turkish F-35s will soon be transferred to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona where Turkish instructor pilots and maintainers will undertake a lengthy training program. Turkey’s first F-35 is scheduled to be deployed to the country in the third quarter of 2019 and will be inducted into operational service by late 2020.
The delivery came amid a voting in the U.S. Senate which called for blocking the sale due to Ankara’s plan to buy Russia’s advanced S-400 Triumf long-range air defense system. S-400 is reportedly capable of targeting stealth fighter jets like the F-35s.
Both House and Senate versions of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) now contain restrictions on Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program due to the S-400 procurment and the arrest an persecution of the American pastor Andrew Brunson, who was accused of spying and attempting to overthrow the government in
Turkey is planning to procure around 100 F-35s out of which 30 already has been contracted. With Lockheed Martin planning to ramp up to full rate production of the aircraft, Turkey will be able to deploy its new squadron by the end of next decade.
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, fifth-generation stealth multirole fighters designed and developed by Lockheed Martin.
The fighter combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, advanced mission systems, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and cutting-edge sustainment. They were developed to perform to perform ground attack and air defense missions.
The three distinct variants, F-35A, F-35B and F-35C, will replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II for the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the F/A-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy (USN), the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), and a variety of fighters for 11 other countries.
On 31 July 2015, the USMC declared ready for deployment the first squadron of F-35B fighters after intensive testing. On 2 August 2016, the USAF declared its first squadron of F-35A fighters combat-ready. The Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration of Navy fighters are expected in 2019.
More than 240 F-35s have been built and delivered worldwide, and they have collectively flown more than 105,000 flight hours.