ANKARA — Turkey's top procurement panel decided Wednesday to order four more F-35 fighter jets and five more CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters, the government announced.
Turkey's procurement agency, the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM), said in a press release that the top panel for procurement, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, convened Monday and reviewed ongoing programs.
It said the government decided to order four more F-35s from the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) consortium, in which Turkey is a member. The move increases Turkey's official orders to six. Turkey plans eventually to buy 100 F-35s.
SSM said the committee also decided to place an order for five CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters. This will be a follow-on order to a previous deal involving six platforms.
The committee decided to move on to the "pre-design" phase in Turkey's bid to design, develop and produce an indigenous fighter jet, SSM said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, chairman of the committee, told reporters after the meeting that a twin-engine model would be pursued in the national fighter aircraft program.
Davutoglu also said that Turkey would continue to negotiate with all three bidders in a disputed program to build the country's first long-range air and anti-missile defense system. In September 2013, Turkey selected China Precision Machinery Import-Export Corp. for a $3.44 billion offer. But after increased pressure from its NATO allies, Turkey since the summer has opened parallel talks with the second- and third-comers in the bidding: the European Eurosam and the US Raytheon/Lockheed Martin team, respectively.
Davutoglu said talks with all three bidders would last about six months.