ANKARA — Turkey's top procurement panel decided Wednesday Jan. 7to place anorder forfour more F-35 fighter jets and five more CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters, the government announced.

Jan. 7.

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 Jan. 5 and reviewed ongoing programs.

It said the government decided to place an order for four more F-35s from the multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) consortium, into which Turkey is a member. The move increases Turkey's official orders to six. so far. Turkey plans eventually to buy an eventual batch of 100 F-35s.

SSM said that the cCommittee 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.

SSM also said that The cCommittee 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 cCommittee, 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 since the sumer parallel talks with the second- and third-comers in the bidding: the European Eurosam and the US Raytheon/Lockheed Martin team, respectively.

Davutoglu said that talks with all three bidders would last about cover an extended period of six months.


Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.