* Turkey to order two F-35 jets, likely to start in 2015
* Aiming progress on missile talks with China in April
* Turkey to seek compensation from Airbus over late delivery
(Reuters) – Turkey is likely to start ordering F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp from 2015 onwards and it will start with two orders initially, Turkey’s undersecretary for state-run defence industries Murad Bayar said on Thursday.
“We will start F-35 orders either this year or the next. Right now, it is likely to be next year,” Bayar told reporters. “We will initially order two. The delivery time will be, depending on the orders, probably in 2017-2018.”
Turkey had already announced it plans to buy 100 F-35 jets for $16 billion. Bayar said he expected the deliveries of 100 aircraft to be completed within 10 years.
The F-35, considered to be the world’s most expensive weapons programme at $396 billion so far, was designed to be the next-generation fighter jet for the U.S. forces.
It is being built by the United States, Britain and seven other co-development partners – Italy, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands.
Separately, Bayar said Turkey was aiming to achieve results in April on its talks with China over the purchase of long-range missile defence systems, a move highly criticised by Turkey’s NATO allies.
In September Turkey chose China’s FD-2000 missile-defence system over rival offers from Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and U.S.-listed Raytheon Co. It said China offered the most competitive terms and would allow co-production in Turkey.
U.S. and NATO officials have raised concerns with Turkish officials about the decision to buy the system from CPMIEC, a company hit by U.S. sanctions for sales of items to either Iran, Syria or North Korea that are banned under U.S. laws to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
“Our talks with China are ongoing. We have extended the bidding until the end of April. We are aiming to get results in early April on this,” Bayar said.
SOURCE REUTERS, Read more..