The first of 30 new Turkish-built F-16s was unveiled by Turkish
Aerospace Industries and Lockheed Martin in ceremonies Monday at
TAI's facility near Ankara.
Turkish Air Force F-16s
Turkish officials at the event included the nation's Minister of
National Defense, Vecdi Gonul; Undersecretary for Defense
Industries Murad Bayar; Turkish Air Force Chief of Staff Lt. Gen.
Abidin Unal; General Manager of the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation
Lt. Gen. (Retired) Hayrettin Uzun; and the Chairman of the Board of
TAI, Lt. Gen. (Retired) Mehmet Yalcin Kaya.
The U.S. government was represented by Ambassador to Turkey
Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr.; Heidi Grant, Deputy Under Secretary of
the Air Force for International Affairs; and Maj. Gen. Stanley
Clarke III, Chief of the Office of Defense Cooperation.
"Lockheed Martin values the partnerships we have established
with the Turkish government, military and industry over the past
quarter century," said Ralph D. Heath, executive vice president of
Aeronautics for Lockheed Martin. "We look forward to continuing
those relationships as a partner with Turkey in the F-35 Joint
Strike Fighter program."
The F-16 program has provided extensive industrial development
and employment in Turkey over the past 25 years. The Turkish Air
Force has more than 200 F-16 aircraft in its inventory presently
and will take delivery of the 30 new, advanced Block 50 models
between May 2011 and December 2012.