Five Governments Now Involved In Program
Turkey Monday became the fifth country to sign an agreement to
participate in the F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft program's
production, sustainment and follow-on development.
The agreement enables the Turkish aerospace and defense industry
to compete for up to $10 billion in industrial participation
opportunities over the next 30 years.
"Turkish industry has been closely linked with Lockheed Martin
and its heritage products for many decades, and the tradition
continues with the F-35 Lightning II," said Tom Burbage, Lockheed
Martin executive vice president and general manager of F-35 Program
Integration. "In signing the memorandum, Turkey gains access to the
world's most capable multi-role fighter, and Turkish industry
continues to prove its world-class status."
The country will have opportunities to compete in
developing and building airframe components, electronics, cockpit
displays and information systems software. Lockheed Martin says as
the F-35 program evolves, new opportunities will emerge.
Turkey joins The Netherlands, Canada, Australia, the United
Kingdom and the United States in signing the Memorandum of
Understanding representing the next step in F-35 program
development. The US expects Italy and Denmark to sign in the next
few weeks, while Norway recently announced its decision to sign
after negotiating certain concessions from the US including
allowing two foreign designs to remain in competition with the F-35
for Norway's next military fighter.
The F-35 program is a new idea for US fighter aircraft
production. In an effort to "spread the wealth" so to speak, the US
will join a multinational effort to build the F-35, touted as an
affordable, multi-role, 5th generation, supersonic, stealth
fighter. The jet is supposed to replace a wide range of aircraft,
including F/A-18s, F-16s, A-10s and Harriers, although the design
is not without its critics.
A recent study completed by Retired Royal Australian Air Force
air vice-marshal Peter Criss suggests the F-22 would better suit
his country's needs. He says his country has committed to the F-35
based on costs he believes will be higher, and capabilities yet to
Criss told Australian newspaper The Age, "Today, and especially
by the expected delivery time for the JSF in 2012 (or perhaps
later), there appears to be very little if any difference in price
between the two contenders and yet there is no comparison in
capability, with the F-22 demonstrating proven performance well
beyond anything the JSF is likely to deliver when it eventually
comes off paper and into production."
The first F-35, a conventional takeoff and landing variant, made
its successful inaugural flight on December 15, and Lockheed says
it continues to expand the jet's flight envelope. The Lightning II
logged its fifth flight just last week.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 Lightning II with its
principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.
The team is developing two separate, interchangeable engines: the
Pratt & Whitney F135 and the GE Rolls-Royce Fighter Engine Team