"We will start F-35 orders either this year or the next. Right now,
it is likely to be next year," Bayar told reporters. "We will
initially order two. The delivery time will be, depending on the
orders, probably in 2017-2018."
Turkey had already announced it plans to buy 100 F-35 jets for $16
billion. Bayar said he expected the deliveries of 100 aircraft to be
completed within 10 years.
The F-35, considered to be the world's most expensive weapons
program at $396 billion so far, was designed to be the
next-generation fighter jet for the U.S. forces.
It is being built by the United States, Britain and seven other
co-development partners - Italy, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark,
Norway and the Netherlands.
Separately, Bayar said Turkey was aiming to achieve results in April
on its talks with China over the purchase of long-range missile
defense systems, a move highly criticized by Turkey's NATO allies.
In September Turkey chose China's FD-2000 missile-defense system
over rival offers from Franco-Italian Eurosam SAMP/T and U.S.-listed
Raytheon Co <RTN.N>. It said China offered the most competitive
terms and would allow co-production in Turkey.
U.S. and NATO officials have raised concerns with Turkish officials
about the decision to buy the system from CPMIEC, a company hit by
U.S. sanctions for sales of items to either Iran, Syria or North
Korea that are banned under U.S. laws to curb the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction.
"Our talks with China are ongoing. We have extended the bidding
until the end of April. We are aiming to get results in early April
on this," Bayar said.
Bayar also said Turkey will seek compensation over the late delivery
of the A400 military transport plane after Airbus <AIR.PA> failed to
meet some of its contractual obligations.
[to top of second column]
"My message to Airbus is that it should first focus on fulfilling
the terms of the contract. There is no additional bargaining here.
The contract, even with the amended version, requires the
fulfillment of certain technical qualities and we have had to hold
these talks because these requirements were not completely
fulfilled," Bayar said.
On Wednesday, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said bargaining was
behind the delay and that it was 'unbearable' that the company was
still negotiating with Turkey over the plane.
"The aircraft is ready to go. It is instantly, operationally fit for
flight. I find the situation increasingly unacceptable," Enders told
Bayar said he still expected the aircraft, which was supposed to
have been delivered to Turkey at the end of last year, to arrive in
March but Turkey was going to ask for compensation.
"Of course there has been a delay in the delivery schedule and there
will be compensation because of this. This will be the financial
dimension," Bayar said.
Meanwhile, Bayar said Japan had told Turkey that it will not allow
the export of a Japanese tank engine to third parties without its
His comments came after Japanese media reported that a deal between
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his Japanese counterpart
Shinzo Abe was struck in May, during Abe's visit to Turkey, on the
supply of engines, but that Turkey's desire to export to third
parties was likely to block the deal.
Bayar said that the potential purchase of the engine for Turkey's
Altay tank was dropped for now.
"We have agreed with Japanese authorities to leave this topic off
the agenda and focus on other areas of cooperation."
His comments appeared to close the door on a potential deal for
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries <7011.T> to supply engines for the Altay
tank being developed by Turkey's Otokar <OTKAR.IS>.
(Additional reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo
and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk and Daren Butler;
Editing by Stephen Powell)
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