Turkey and UK agree to develop new fighter aircraft

30 January 2017
Image tweeted by Turkey's defence minister, Fikri Isik, on 28 January of Turkey's Milli Muharebe Uçagi (MMU) project, also known as the Turkish Fighter Experimental (TF-X) project. Source: TAI via Fikri Isik

Turkey and the United Kingdom signed a heads of agreement to collaborate on the development of Turkey's indigenous fifth-generation fighter project on 28 January.

The agreement was signed in Ankara by BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in the presence of the Turkish prime minister, Binali Yildirim, and the visiting UK prime minister, Theresa May.

The non-binding agreement paves the way for the signature of a contract between the two companies that could be worth over GBP100 million and pave the way for even deeper co-operation over the lifetime of the project.

Known as the Milli Muharebe Uçagi (MMU) project locally and overseas as the Turkish Fighter Experimental (TF-X) project, the programme aims to build a modern air superiority aircraft to replace Turkey's F-16s. Turkey selected BAE Systems as its first choice international partner for the project in late 2015.

May, who is reported to have made preparations for closer post-Brexit trading links her top priority for the Turkey trip, said, "This agreement [TF-X] underlines once again that Britain is a great, global, trading nation and that we are open for business. It marks the start of a new and deeper trading relationship with Turkey and will potentially secure British and Turkish jobs and prosperity for decades to come."

Yildirim stated also during his joint press conference on 28 January with May that the two countries have displayed a common will to improve their economic and security relations.

He further noted that the two countries had forged a strategic partnership in 2010. He added that TF-X "is a project supported fully by both the Turkish Republic and Britain. It is an important project that will further the strength of both countries in the defence industry field".

Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after meeting with May on 28 January, said that Turkey and the United Kingdom can work together in solidarities, both politically and as members of NATO.

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