ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish government is keen to revive talks with Rolls-Royce for the design and production of its first indigenous fighter jet, the TF-X, a top cabinet minister has said.

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the government wants to move forward with its planned cooperation with Britain for the production of the new-generation aircraft. But Turkey must first select an engine for the TF-X and then finalize the aircraft’s full design — a process that has has lagged behind schedule.

Its aerospace and procurement officials now aim to fly the TF-X in the 2025-2026 time frame, despite an original target of 2023.

A £100 million (U.S. $132 million) deal between Rolls-Royce and Turkish manufacturer Kale Group was effectively put on hold amid uncertainties over technology transfer.

In October 2016, Rolls-Royce offered a joint production partnership to Turkey to power Turkey’s planned platforms. The offer also involved potential sales to third parties. The British company’s proposal also included a production unit in Turkey to manufacture engines for the TF-X, as well as for helicopters, tanks and missiles.

A year before that, in October 2015, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Turkey and Rolls-Royce for technological know-how and a production unit. Under the plan, Rolls-Royce would launch an advanced manufacturing and technology center in Turkey ― the company’s eighth such unit worldwide.

Also in 2017, BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries, the prime contractor of TF-X, signed a $125 million heads of agreement to collaborate on the first development phase of the planned fifth-generation fighter jet.

After its membership in the U.S.-led, multinational Joint Strike Fighter program was suspended, Turkey started to look for alternatives for an off-the-shelf bridge gap solution until its own fighter jet can be built. Talks with Russia are underway for a potential Su-35 or Su-57 deal, according to officials in Ankara and Moscow.

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This critical industrial base is now being tested in a way not experienced in our lifetime — not from an adversary, but from a virus. The industrial base is becoming our own worst adversary by delaying the research and production of systems vital to our national security due to employees delaying or objecting to protecting themselves and their fellow workers from COVID-19, an enemy that has already claimed more than 775,000 American lives.