Turkey seeks F-16 engines from US to use in domestic fighter plane

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Turkey has asked the US for permission to co-produce GE Aerospace engines used in F-16 jets, with an aim to deploy them for its own domestically produced fighter plane.

The NATO member is looking to manufacture GE’s F110 engines in Turkey to ensure supplies for the initial phase of TAI Kaan, an all-weather fighter plane scheduled to make its maiden flight in January 2024, according to people familiar with the matter. The fifth-generation aircraft is under development by Turkish Aerospace Industries with help from the UK’s BAE Systems Plc.

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Turkey sees Kaan planes utilizing two F110 engines until the country is able to develop its own version, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the matter is confidential.

US officials in Ankara declined to comment. Turkey declined to comment.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made modernizing Turkey’s aging air force a top priority, especially following the country’s expulsion from the program to procure and support Lockheed Martin Corp.’s advanced F-35 fighter jets in 2019. The US cut Turkey out of that initiative due to Ankara’s acquisition of Russian S-400 defense systems, fearing the potential compromise of the jets’ stealth capabilities.

“Turkey aims to have its domestic aircraft engine ready in 2028,” Defense Minister Yasar Guler recently told reporters.

Sweden in NATO

Meanwhile, a Turkish parliamentary committee on Tuesday advanced approval of Sweden’s accession into NATO as requested by US President Joe Biden — a condition attached to the sale of 40 new F-16 Block 70 aircraft and 79 kits by Lockheed Martin. Turkey is overdue to retire its F-4 jets and wants to upgrade its F-16 fleet as a stopgap measure. Turkey is also seeking to acquire Eurofighter jets.

The country has been in talks with the UK’s Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc to co-produce aircraft engines and while the discussions are at an advanced stage, the sides have yet to reach an agreement over the composition of a consortium, the people said.

Rolls-Royce already has a joint venture with Turkish industrial conglomerate Kale Group in Turkey, where the future engine would be produced if an agreement is reached.

Turkey’s request for joint production of the F110 GE engines follows an agreement reached in June between Turkey’s TUSAS Engine Industries Inc., or TEI, and GE Aerospace. The accord extended TEI’s license to conduct F110 Depot Level Maintenance services for several countries operating F-16 and F-15 fighter air-craft. TEI is one of the largest manufacturers of parts for F110 engines.

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Turkey eyeing to buy Eurofighters after uncertainty over US F-16 request: Source

Here’s what to know about Turkey’s decision to move forward with Sweden’s NATO bid

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