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Dec 25 2018

Turkish pilots to begin training for F-35 B fighter jets  

Two Turkish pilots currently serving in the Naval Forces have been chosen for F-35 B fighter jet training, Turkey’s Kokpit website reported.

The pilots, currently working with CN235 and ATR72 aircraft, are set to arrive at the Second Main Jet Base Command located in Turkey’s western town on Çiğli in İzmir as Turkey braces for the delivery of more than 100 Lockheed Martin-produced F-35 jets to Turkey by 2020. 

The pair will head to the United States for further training after completing their initial training in Çiğli on the single-seat, single-engined, all-weather stealth multirole fighters, the website noted.

The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant is the world’s first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft, Lockheed Martin's F-35 Lightning II website notes. It can take off and land conventionally from longer runways on major bases but also vertically take off and land on naval ships.

The U.S. Marines and the U.K. are already operating the F-35Bs, and the Italian Air Force will also operate the F-35B variants, the same official F-35 website notes. There is no reference to the Turkish Naval Forces in the website.

Ankara has contributed one billion dollars towards Turkey’s planned acquisition of 100 advanced F-35 stealth fighters. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, however, on December 16 said that Turkey will acquire a total of 120 fighter jets, instead of 100, and it is assumed that 20 of those jets will be the F-35B variation.

However, some U.S. lawmakers are urging Turkey be cut from the F-35 program due to the country’s s likely acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which the U.S. maintains is incompatible with NATO systems.