By Goksel Yildirim
Turkey took delivery of its first F-35 fighter jet at a ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas, on Thursday.
Officials from the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense 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 program since the beginning of 1999. The Turkish defense industry has taken an active role in the production of aircraft; Alp Aviation, AYESAS, Kale Aviation, Kale Pratt & Whitney and Turkish Aerospace Industries have been producing parts of the first F-35 fighter jet.
The aircraft is expected to boost the Turkish Air Force with its superior capabilities such as latest sensors and an advanced radar system.
The first F-35 fighter jet delivered on Thursday will be assigned to the Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for pilot training.
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 U.S. during the Turkish pilots' training period.
The fifth and sixth fighter jets will be directly sent to Turkey once their productions are finalized in November 2019.
The F-35 fighter jets will be deployed in the 7th Main Jet Base Command in eastern Malatya province. Trainings will begin in 2020 after the arrival of aircraft in November 2019.
Turkey seeks 100 jets
Turkey plans to get 100 F-35 fighter jets in upcoming years and as part of this deal 30 aircraft were ordered.
Turkish Defense Industry Deputy Undersecretary Serdar Demirel said the magnificent fighter jet is one of the most important indicators of Turkey-U.S. 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.
He added that Lockheed Martin is the leading company and is playing an important role in the development of Turkish military aviation and defense industry.
Turkey is getting its first F-35 fighter jet after the country joined the program 19 years ago.
Demirel said the aircraft will boost the efficiency of the Turkish Air Force's defense and attack capabilities.
He added Turkey's locally made HGK and SOM-J missiles would be integrated into the F-35.
Lockheed Martin praises Turkey
Demirel thanked defense industry partners -- JSF Program Office, Lockheed Martin Aero Team, Pratt & Whitney and the Turkish team -- for their contributions to the F-35 program.
Separately, Lockheed Martin Chairperson Marillyn Hewson said the firm was honored 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.
The U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets will arrive in Turkey in 2020, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said earlier on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters in southern Antalya province, Cavusoglu said training for the Lockheed Martin-made jets will be carried out in the U.S. until 2020.
"There will be training works until 2020. The arrival of the jets in Turkey will be in 2020," the foreign minister said.
On Monday, the U.S. 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 defense system from Russia and detaining of U.S. 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.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.