ISTANBUL --- The first next-generation F-35A fighter jet produced for Turkey made its maiden flight at the U.S. weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin facilities in Fort Worth, Texas.
In a video shared by the U.S. Department of Defense Wednesday, an F-35 warplane with the tail number 18-001 and a Turkish flag next to it circled around the facilities and made a couple of maneuvers.
Video of the first flight of Turkey’s first F-35A fighter. Turkey plans to eventually buy 100 F-35, and possibly some F-35B STOVL variants as well. (US DoD footage)
F-16 pilots currently serving in the Turkish Air Force will be able use the planes after completing a six-week training program.
Apart from Turkey, the U.S., the U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Norway and Denmark are also present as participant members in the F-35 program.
Turkey's cooperation with prime contractor Lockheed Martin dates back to the 1990s, when it previously purchased F-16 fighter jets. Turkish firms continue cooperation in the areas of system development and drills as part of the F-35 project. Several Turkish firms are involved in the making of the fighter jets as part of Turkey's partner role in the joint program.
The F-35 fighter jet's advanced stealth technology allows it to evade even sophisticated anti-aircraft systems, according to Lockheed Martin.
First F-35 warplanes are expected to be delivered to Turkey on June 21.