Turkey’s defense ministry placed a firm order for the first two F-35A Lightning IIs for the Turkish air force, the country’s government announced. “Turkey continues her forecast of the acquisition of 100 F-35A aircraft as planned and declared previously,” according to an official April 6 release. The Block-3F jets constructed as part of low-rate initial production lot 10 are slated for delivery next year. Lockheed Martin sub-contractor Turkish Aerospace delivered its first F-35 center fuselage section late last year. Turkey is one of the program’s nine development partners, and in addition to its substantial share in production is seeking to capture sustainment work for “all F-35 users around the region,” according to the release. Turkey’s planned F-35 procurement is valued at roughly $16 billion, reported Reuters.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.