Despite disputes, before year's-end end Turkey likely to order first batch of next generation F-35 jets
Turkey will likely place a purchase order for a first batch of six F-35 next-generation aircraft before year's-end, despite a dispute with Washington over details of the sale. Turkey plans to buy the US-led F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II, a stealth multi-role fighter jet, to meet most future needs for its Air Force fighter planes. It has expressed willingness to buy around 100 F-35s over the next 15 years, but as the program's limited production stage begins, so far it has not formally committed to the program. To do so, it needs to submit a purchase order for a first batch of six aircraft before year's-end. "We will have talks [with the Americans] in the months ahead in an effort to resolve some matters," said Murat Bayar, head of the Defense Industries Undersecretariat (SSM), the government's defense procurement agency. "If we manage to reach an agreement, we expect to order the first six aircraft this year." He added, "We expect to reach a deal." The F-35, whose production is led by US defense giant Lockheed Martin, will be built by a consortium of nine countries, including Turkey, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Norway and Denmark. Turkish companies want to raise their share to more than $6 billion to stay near the planned 50 percent figure. Though the US is reluctant to share millions of lines of source codes that make the plane's flight possible, Turkey wants access to part of these codes related to operational needs.