Turkish authorities announced Friday that they will postpone the first deliveries of the new fighter aircraft F-35 to the Turkish military for two years. It is not expected that this will have any significant effect on the Norwegian cost or delivery schedules.
The first aircraft will now be delivered in 2017 as opposed to 2015. This means that Turkey now will have delivery of its first aircraft in the same year as the first F-35 is scheduled to arrive in Norway.
“There is nothing new in the program now, either technically or financially, that has caused this change in Turkey's plans. The difference between Norway and Turkey is mainly that they have not previously adjusted their procurement plan in accordance with the changes that the United States announced in 2010, while Norway already did that later that year,” says program director Anders Melheim.
With this adjustment to its schedule, Turkey comes more in line with the rest of the partners, and it is therefore not expected to have any significant effect on either the Norwegian cost or delivery schedules.
“Turkey will continue to acquire the majority of its aircraft in the same period as Norway buys most of its aircraft, and this ensures that we both benefit from higher production volumes in the relevant years, and that together we will have the opportunity to push production costs further down,” says Melheim.
Norwegian opinion remains unchanged
Melheim also noted that Turkey mentions technical problems as a basis for later delivery, but believes that the Norwegian opinions about that still stands.
The Defense Ministry's department for operational testing and evaluation have also designed a new report that points to the many technical issues that are materially known and that have already been discussed between the partners. The fighter aircraft program will now study this carefully and follow it up in the further process.
“Do we have the technical challenges of a project of this size? Yes, we will. But these are insurmountable? No, absolutely not. There has been no new information about the development of the aircraft, either from Turkey or the United States, to suggest otherwise. We believe that in comparison to what we use F-35 for the first few years, the training aircraft we have delivered in 2015 and 2016 will have the capabilities we need.
“We will continue our close monitoring of the development to ensure that the transition to a new fighter capacity is done in the best possible way,” says the program director.