While we debate the merits of the F-35, Lockheed Martin has just received a tidy $797 million contract for 30 more F-16s for Turkey. Hardly a surprise, as the sale has been in the works for some time (Lockheed getting an initial $187 million in 2007), but to any other fighter manufacturer a 30-aircraft deal would be big news. The Advanced Block 50+ F-16s - 14 single-seaters and 16 two-seaters will be assembled by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) for delivery starting in 2012 to fill the gap until Turkey's F-35s begin arriving.
The new fighters, being procured under the Peace Onyx IV program, take the total number of F-16s purchased by Turkey to 278. Signing the $1.78 billion deal in May 2007, Turkey said it needed extra aircraft because of attrition losses and the temporary grounding of existing F-16C/Ds for a major upgrade.
TAI is updating more than 200 aircraft to a common configuration and the new F-16s will be similarly equipped, including APG-68(V)9 radar, conformal tanks, helmet displays and the ALQ-178(V)5+ SPEWS II self-protection suite being developed by local companes Aselsan and Mikes jointly with BAE Systems.