First two F-35 fighter jet delivered to Turkey during a ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas. Ankara plans to get 100 F-35 fighter jets in coming years, and as part of this deal 30 aircraft were ordered.
Turkey took delivery of its first two F-35 fighter jet at a ceremony in Texas on Thursday, despite opposition from the US Senate.
TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan reports.
Ankara plans to get 100 F-35 fighter jets in the coming years, and as part of this deal 30 aircraft were ordered.
Officials from the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries, Turkish companies involved in the project and Lockheed Martin representatives attended the ceremony at the Lockheed Martin Corporation in Texas.
Turkey has been in the F-35 programme since the beginning of 1999, and the Turkish defence industry has taken an active role in the production of the aircraft.
A 'great asset'
The aircraft is expected to boost the Turkish Air Force with its superior capabilities such as the latest sensors and an advanced radar system.
Officials said the first F-35 fighter jet delivered to Turkey will be assigned to the Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for pilot training.
Speaking at the ceremony, Turkish Major General Reha Ufuk Er said that the F-35 is a "great asset to thwart future threats, and it will improve Turkey's air capacity."
The second aircraft will be delivered in the forthcoming days; the third and fourth one will be delivered in March 2019. These aircraft will stay in the US during the Turkish pilots' training period.
The fifth and sixth fighter jets will be directly sent to Turkey once their productions are finalised in November 2019.
A new era
The F-35 fighter jets will be deployed in the 7th Main Jet Base Command in eastern Malatya province. Training will begin in 2020 after the arrival of aircraft in November 2019.
"We are entering a new era altogether, and this also holds true for the Turkish air force," said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin's Aeronautics business area.
Magnificent fighter jet
Turkish Defence Industry Deputy Undersecretary Serdar Demirel said the magnificent fighter jet is one of the most important indicators of the Turkey-US partnership and strategic alliance.
Demirel said that the F-35 will be the fifth generation fighter jet to be in the Turkish Armed Forces' inventory.
Turkey is getting its first F-35 fighter jet after the country joined the programme 19 years ago, he said.
Demirel said the aircraft will boost the efficiency of the Turkish Air Force's defence and attack capabilities, adding, Turkey's locally made HGK and SOM-J missiles would be integrated into the F-35.
Lockheed Martin praises Turkey
Lockheed Martin Chairperson Marillyn Hewson said the firm was honoured to deliver the first F-35 aircraft to the Republic of Turkey.
She added that the F-35 would play a decisive role in increasing global security worldwide.
On Monday, the US Senate overwhelmingly approved the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which includes an amendment prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, citing the purchase of the S-400 air defence system from Russia and detention of US citizens as the reasons.
Later, Turkey announced that the delivery of jets will take place at a ceremony in Texas, with the jets set to come to Turkey once the pilots complete training.