UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


F-16 Peace Onyx

The F-16 multi-role fighter is the core of Turkey's offensive counterair (OCA), defensive counterair (DCA), and suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) capability. Not surprisingly, the Peace Onyx co-production program is accorded the highest priority for resource allocation. A well developed program management network exists within the TUAF, specifically for the F-16 program. Highly efficient, innovative, and technically astute management of Peace Onyx programs has set the standard for subsequent acquisition of major weapon systems. As of December 1994 a total of 160 Peace Onyx I F-16 Block 30/40 aircraft had been delivered and 80 Peace Onyx II F-16 Block 50 aircraft were to be delivered beginning in mid-1996.

Visionary planning on the part of the Government of Turkey and private enterprise resulted in the creation of two highly significant aerospace manufacturing entities located in the heart of Turkey. The first, TUSAS Aircraft Industries (TAI) is a Turkish-American joint stock companyestablished in 1984 to supply F-16 C/D (Block 40/50) aircraft both to the TUAF under the Peace Onyx I and II programs and to the Egyptian Air Force under Peace Vector IV. The second enterprise TUSAS Engine Industries (TEI), is a Turkish-American joint stock company established in 1985 to manufacture engine components and assemble F-l10-GE-100 engines for the TAI F-16 production.

The TUAF has taken several steps to ensure the F-16 is well equipped to accomplish the OCA, DCA, and SEAD missions for which it was designed. Near term delivery of the U.S. Advance Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) combined with a growing inventory of AIM-9MS, will give TUAF F-16s a sophisticated all aspect, beyond visual range, air-to-air arsenal. Additionally, future delivery of High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARM) will provide aformidable air-to-surface capability for SEAD missions. The TUAF has acquired a number ofsystems to improve combat interdiction and close air support capability. Most notably, the TUAF purchased Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infra-Red Night (LANT1RN) Pods which give TUAF F-16 pilots the ability to deliver precision guided munitions during day or night operations.

Turkish arms manufacturers' most ambitious undertaking was a consortium with United States firms to produce F-16 fighter aircraft. Most of Turkey’s 240 Lockheed Martin F-16s were co-produced in Turkey by a predecessor firm of Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). In September 1983, the government of Turkey announced plans to buy 160 F-16s under the Peace Onyx I program, which operates under the Foreign Military Sales program. The first eight aircraft in the order were built at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, with the remaining 152 aircraft assembled in Turkey.

In September 1983, the government of Turkey announced plans to buy 160 F-16s under the Peace Onyx I program, which operates under the Foreign Military Sales program. The first eight aircraft in the order were built at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, with the remaining 152 aircraft assembled in Turkey at TUSAS Aerospace Industries (TAI) at Murted. TUSAS is an acronym for Tusas Ucak Sanayii AS, or Turkish Aircraft Industries, a company owned jointly by Turkish and American shareholders.

The Government of Turkey (GOT) entered into a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) with the US Air Force to purchase F-16 aircraft, to be manufactured by Lockheed under the FMS program. This program was entitled “Peace Onyx.” In conjunction with this program, the GOT sought and obtained co-production of certain elements of the F-16 in Turkey. Under this arrangement, airframes for the F-16s were produced in a factory at Mürted Air Base near Ankara by TÜSAS (Türk Uçak Sanayi Sirketi) Aerospace Industries [TAI], with 51 percent ownership by Turkish interests, 42 percent by General Dynamics, and 7 percent by General Electric. Among other things, TAI performedfinal assembly of the F-16s, known as “mate through delivery” or MTD. The engine plant near Eskisehir is a joint venture with General Electric.

Under this program, TAI manufactured 70% of the airframe of the F-16 aircraft including aft and center fuselages and wings. The Peace Onyx I Program covered 160 F-16s, eight of which were produced at the General Dynamics, Fort Worth facilities and delivered to TuAF. TAI manufactured and delivered 152 F-16C/D aircraft in Block 30 and 40 configurations at the TAI Facilities to the Turkish Air Force under the Peace Onyx I Program between the years 1987-1995.

The Turkish Air Force received its first two F-16s as assembly kits in March 1987. Turkey officially received its first F-16D in July 1987. The first Turkish F-16s arrived at Murted Air Base in October 1987, followed by the first flight of a Turkish-built F-16 on October 20, 1987. Starting with the 44th aircraft, all Turkish Air Force F-16s from the first batch were manufactured to Block 40 standards. The first 43 F-16s were Block 30 versions. TAI was awarded a contract to build wings, center fuselages, and aft fuselages for U.S. Air Force F-16s. They have also been awarded a contract to build 46 Block 40 F-16C/Ds for the Egyptian Air Force under the Peace Vector IV program. In March of 1992, a follow-on order for 80 Block 50 F-16Ds was placed under the Peace Onyx II Foreign Military Sales program. TAI delivered these aircraft from TAI from 1996 to 1999.

TAI co-production under Peace Onyx I was a technical and political success. The President of Turkey established a national objective to expand F-16 co-production at TAI on future programs, including the performance of additional and more technically complex work on the F-16, and to perform such work not only for itself but for other countries. However by 1990, there was no funding available within Turkey for additional F-16 buys, nor was there available any interested and funded third-country customer.

The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 brought changed circumstances and new military procurement opportunities. The USG sought and obtained the supportof the governments of Turkey and Egypt (GOE) as part of an alliance against Iraq. Among other things, Turkey provided convenient fly-over access to the military theaterfrom its military bases, and also curtailed the flow of Iraqi oil through its country. The USG sought ways to reward its allies for their support of American foreign policy objectives in the Gulf region. For Turkey, the USG promoted the creation of a “Turkish Defense Fund,” funded by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, to be paid over a five-year period. In return for Egypt’s support, the USG forgave certain Egyptian debt obligations. As a result, Turkey now had a long-term funding source for additional F-16 buys – to be called“Peace Onyx II.” Egypt had additional funds freed-up to be a potential third-country customer for Turkey’s planned new co-production program.

Under an October 1994 agreement, Turkey requested that the TDF, which thus far amounted to some US$1.8 billion, be transferred to Turkey. Most of the TDF funds were to be used to cover the cost of eighty F-16 aircraft, of which forty were agreed upon in March 1992 and forty more in February 1994. Through offset arrangements, F-16 components and engines produced in Turkey were exported to the United States.

Egypt ordered forty-six F-16s to be delivered between 1993 and 1995. The GOT was to perform MTD on F-16s under Egypt’s FMS program (Peace Vector IV) at Turkey’s facility at TAI, and the GOE was to perform an equivalent number of manhours of work on F-16s under Turkey’s FMS program (Peace Onyx II) at Egypt’s facility at Arab Organization for Industrialization’s (AOI). As a result of the industrial cooperation agreement reached between the Governments of Turkey and Egypt in 1991, General Dynamics agreed to facilitate a Government of Turkey requested placement of 427,000 manhours of PO II coproduction work at AOI to meet Turkey’s commitment to Egypt.

Within the framework of the follow-on program Peace Onyx II, TAI produced an additional 80 F-16C/D aircraft in Block 50 configuration during the 1995-1999 period for TuAF. With this program, the manufacturing share of the company reached 80% with the addition of flaperons and the stuffing tasks for the forward fuselage to the airframe components manufactured in the first program.

The overall program cost to the GOT under Peace Onyx II would be much less, since Turkey would realize savings of roughly $26 million from its own co-producer – TAI – due to the fact that its work on the Egyptian aircraft under the counter-trade agreement would keep labor costs lower for the follow-on Peace Onyx II program. By the middle of 1994, the contractors had completed all control tooling necessary for co-production, and AOI had completed much of the production tooling. The quality of AOI’s work was as good as any other co-producer, and in certain instances as good as that at the facility in Fort Worth. But on 12 August 1994, General Dynamics canceled the AOI contract and moved the work out of AOI because it would not pay a premium to have work performed at AOI.

The advanced block 50 aircraft had advantages of extended range with additional internal fuel tanks and enhanced precision strike capability over the existing ones in the TurAF inventory. As a result of PO-III Modernization Project, the F-16’s in the inventory will, except for the fuel tank, have a configuration similar to the aircraft to be procured. As per the Defence Industry Executive Committee Decision dated 1 July 2009, the contract was signed with TAI on 31 August 2009. Delivery of modernized Aircraft will commence in late 2011 and is scheduled to be completed by July 2014. The local content ratio is expected to be at least 90 %.

The serial assembly of modernization kits, which were supplied as part of the F-16 Modernization Project in accordance with Turkish Armed Forces requirements, to F-16 block 40 and block 50 model planes in Turkish Air Force inventory. Scope: The serial assembly of modernization kits (on which prototype and testing applications will be carried out) to the 165 planes in TuAF inventory under TUSAS Prime Contractorship and by utilizing the capabilities of the 1st Air Supply and Maintenance Center Command.

On 28 September 2006 the Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Turkey of advanced F-16 Block 50 aircraft as well as associated equipment and services. Also included are system integration and testing, software development/integration, test sets and support equipment, simulation units, link pods, spare and repair parts, publications and technical data, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor representatives’ program support services, contractor engineering and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics support. The total value, if all options are exercised, could be as high as $2.9 billion.

On 12 December 2006, the Defence Industry Executive Committee decided on the procurement of 30 F-16 Advanced Block 50 aircraft from the U.S. Government through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) under the Peace Onyx IV (PO-IV) Program. After lengthy negotiations between SSM, US DoD and the main contractor Lockheed Martin, the LOA was signed on 30 April 2007. After nearly two years of negotiations, the United States and Turkey signed an FMS contract in 2009 for 30 F-16 Block 50 aircraft to be co-produced by TAI. According to the contract, the final assembly and delivery of the 30 F-16 aircraft was realized in TAI facilities in Ankara while the engines was manufactured by TEI in Eskisehir. The first aircraft was accepted in May 2011 and the deliveries were scheduled to be completed by the end of 2012.

On May 11th, 2007 the governments of Turkey and the United States signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) for the sale of 30 additional Lockheed Martin Advanced F-16 Block 50 aircraft to Turkey. The new aircraft will supplement the Turkish Air Force's (TUAF) existing fleet of F-16s and contribute to the upgrade and modernization of the TUAF. The new aircraft include the same advanced systems being installed on Turkey's existing F-16 fleet as part of an on-going upgrade program. At the conclusion of these two programs all Turkish F-16s will be in a common, state-of-the-art configuration.

The total LOA value for the 30 aircraft and equipment is approximately $1.8 billion (U.S.). Lockheed Martin and its supplier base will receive approximately $1.1 billion of this amount. Final assembly and delivery of the aircraft will be performed at TUSAS Aerospace Industries (TAI) in Turkey, furthering the longstanding business relationship between Lockheed Martin and TAI.

On 13 December 2012 Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) and Lockheed Martin unveiled the last Turkish-built F-16 at a ceremony held at TAI's facilities in Ankara.. The ceremony was attended by Deputy Undersecretary of Turkish Defense Industries Mr. Serdar Demirel and high level executives from the Undersecretriat for Defence Industries (SSM), Turkish Air Force (TurAF), Lockheed Martin and TAI. The program, which started with the speech of TAI's Executive Vice President of Aircraft Mr. Özcan Ertem, continued with Lockheed Martin's Vice President and General Manager of F-16 / F-22 Integrated Fighter Group Mr. Jeff Babione and SSM's Deputy Undersecretary for Platform Projects Mr. Serdar Demirel's speeches. During the ceremony, TAI's Chairman of the Board, Yalçin Kaya presented plaques to the representatives of the parties who have contributed to the program.

The F-16 program provided extensive industrial development and employment in Turkey over the past 25 years. The Turkish Air Force was to receive 30 new, advanced Block 50 models between May 2011 and December 2012. The F-16 is the choice of 25 nations. More than 4,400 aircraft have been delivered worldwide from assembly lines in five countries. The F-16 program has been characterized by unprecedented international cooperation among governments, air forces and aerospace industries. Major upgrades to all F-16 versions are being incorporated to keep the fleet modern and fully supportable over the aircraft's long service life.

On 13 December 2012 Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) and Lockheed Martin unveiled the last Turkish-built F-16 at a ceremony held at TAI's facilities in Ankara. The ceremony was attended by Deputy Undersecretary of Turkish Defense Industries Mr. Serdar Demirel and high level executives from the Undersecretriat for Defence Industries (SSM), Turkish Air Force (TurAF), Lockheed Martin and TAI.

On 14 December 2020 the US imposed sanctions on Ankara over Turkey's purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system. The US sanctions targeted Turkey's Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), its military procurement agency, its chief Ismail Demir and three other senior Turkish officials. Erdogan, in response, denounced the sanctions as a "hostile attack" on the sovereign rights of his country. "What kind of alliance is this? What kind of partnership is this? This decision is an open hostile attack against our country's sovereign rights," the Turkish president said in a televised speech.

F-16V Block 70

Turkey sent a formal request to the U.S. on 30 September 2021 to buy 40 F-16 fighter jets to upgrade its Air Force and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes from the United States, its NATO ally. The deal is valued at $6 billion (TL 54 billion). The deal was working its way through the Foreign Military Sales process, which is subject to approval by the US State Department as well as the US Congress, which can block deals. The request for the jets may have a difficult time getting approval from the Congress, where sentiment toward Turkey had deeply soured in recent years.

“Technical work” had started on Turkey’s purchase of US-made Block 70 Viper F-16s, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said. Washington had not yet confirmed the deal, which was first announced by the Turkish president. Akar’s remark came after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. He said the purchase of the warplanes and the modernization of older F-16s in the Turkish fleet “also means the strengthening of NATO defense."

The purported deal was first announced by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. On his return flight from an African tour on 17 October 2021, he told journalists the US had offered it as compensation for Turkey’s investment in the F-35 program, which it was pushed out of under the Trump administration in retaliation for its decision to purchase Russian S-400 long-range air defense systems. “There is the payment of $1.4 billion we have made for the F-35s and the US had such a proposal in return for these payments,” Erdogan said. “We are working to further develop our fleet from the modernization of the F-16s in our possession to new additional F-16 purchases,” he added.

Turkey is still ready to consider purchasing Russian-made Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets, if Ankara fails to reach agreement with Washington on the delivery of US F-16 fighters, Head of Turkey’s Defense Industry Ismail Demir said on 18 October 2021. "If the United States does not approve a deal on the F-16s after the situation with F-35 aircraft, Turkey won’t be left without alternatives. The issue of Su-35 and Su-57 planes may surface again at any time," the Turkish NTV television channel quoted Demir as saying.

Members of the US Congress put pressure on the Department of State to prevent the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. On 21 October 2021 a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed opposition both for the acquisition of new F-16 fighter jets and the upgrading of existing ones. The initiative came from Representatives Chris Pappas, Gus Bilirakis, and Carolyn Maloney and had the support of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), as well as Armenian, Indian, and Kurdish organizations.

The administration of US President Joe Biden expressed support for Turkey's delayed purchase of F-16 fighter jets after Ankara dropped its opposition to Finland and Sweden's bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Washington "supports Turkey's modernization of its fighter fleet because that is a contribution to NATO security and therefore American security," Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary for Defense for International Security Affairs at the Pentagon, said on 30 June 2022. "These plans are in the works. And, they need to be worked through our contracting processes," she added. "Turkey is a highly capable, highly valued, strategic NATO ally and Turkish defense capabilities, strong Turkish defense capabilities, contribute to strong NATO defense capabilities," she added.

This is the first time Washington expresses public backing for Ankara's request for the fighter jets. Turkey, a NATO ally, requested to buy several dozen new F-16 fighter jets in October 2022 to boost its air force. But with relations between Turkey and the US and its European allies fraught, Washington had so far refrained from expressing any opinion on the sale. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had accused the US of "stalling tactics" over the F-16 purchase.

The warm words from the Biden administration came a day after Turkey agreed to support Sweden and Finland's membership of NATO, where unanimous consent is required for enlargement. At the beginning of a meeting with Erdogan on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Madrid, Biden thanked his Turkish counterpart "for what you did putting together the situation with regard to Finland and Sweden."

Meanwhile, a senior US official said Ankara had not asked for any "particular concession" to give its green light. The official said US officials were engaged in ongoing technical talks about Turkey's request to buy F-16 fighter jets. Congress would have the final say about any such sales. The sale of US weapons to Turkey became contentious after Erdogan purchased a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. Washington removed Ankara from its advanced F-35 fighter jet program and imposed sanctions on its defense industry as well.

US President Joe Biden voiced public support for the F-16 sale, citing its importance to Turkiye's and NATO's defences. But the deal encountered numerous legislative roadblocks in Congress. By January 2023, the final hurdle seemed to have been lifted, paving the way for the sale. According to Anadolu Agency, which obtained a draft of a US defence bill in january 2023, previous amendments attached to the sale of the F-16s to Turkiye, have been dropped. The amendments had imposed several restrictions on the sale, including a prohibition of using the fighter jets to violate Greek airspace. Turkiye had opposed the amendments saying it would not accept any restrictions and hinted it could look elsewhere for fighter jets.

Plans by President Biden's administration to approve a $20 billion sale of US-made F-16 fighter jets to Turkiye have hit a potential roadblock, as a key member of the Senate vowed to block the deal because he considers Ankara to be an untrustworthy NATO ally.

"I strongly oppose the Biden administration's proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkiye," Senator Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, said on 13 January 2023 in a statement. He accused Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of disregarding human rights, undermining international law and engaging in "alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and against neighboring NATO allies."

Menendez spoke out, reiterating his opposition to the arms deal, after the US State Department reportedly notified relevant congressional committees of its intention to go forward with the F-16 sale. Turkiye requested the aircraft in October 2021, saying it wanted to buy 40 new F-16s and 80 modernization kits to upgrade its existing fleet.

As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez is an influential voice on arms sales and could try to push through a resolution condemning the deal with Turkiye. The Wall Street Journal reported that the F-16 transfer is contingent on Ankara's approval of bids by Sweden and Finland to join NATO. The senator, who voiced his support for a sale of F-35 fighter jets to Greece, has broader concerns about Turkiye's conduct. "Until Erdogan ceases his threats, improves his human rights record at home – including by releasing journalists and political opposition – and begins to act like a trusted ally should, I will not approve this sale," Menendez said.

Washington has made "endless" demands on Turkiye in connection with the deal, Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for Erdogan, told reporters. "If they keep pushing Turkiye in other directions with F-16 (and) F-35 sanctions, and then Turkiye reacts, they blame Turkiye again, then that's not a fair game . . . . There's always something."

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 24-04-2023 18:07:10 ZULU