Turkish navy takes a hit from Turkey’s removal from F35 project

The Turkish navy is the latest victim of Turkey’s removal from the F35 project, Forbes reported on Friday.

The Turkish government wanted to buy both the latest Russian-made air-defense system and the American-made F-35 stealth fighter.

The U.S. government, however, removed Turkey from the project on July 17, 2019 citing security issues.

The White House issued a statement on that day:

“Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” the White House statement read.

“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”

“Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems," the statement continued.”

The Turkish navy planned to deploy vertical-landing F-35Bs aboard its new assault ship, the future TCG Anadolu, transforming the vessel into a de facto light aircraft carrier, the Forbes report said.

“Now the navy has a carrier with no planes. The Anadolu is in the final stages of construction and could join the fleet in 2022. But it could be years before the ship embarks fixed-wing aircraft — if she ever does.”

The Anadolu vessel without the F-35 fighter jets is less likely to function as a light carrier, according to the report.

“The Turkish government’s desperation is evident. There have been a flurry of proposals in recent weeks as Ankara struggles to conceptualize a replacement for the shipborne F-35.”

Anadolu could embark locally-produced TB-2/3 unmanned aerial vehicles, effectively making it the world’s first drone mothership, and that that’s probably a more realistic scheme than the one Ismail Demir, the Turkish defense ministry’s procurement chief, floated a few days ago, the report continues.

Demir remarked that Anadolu could embark jet trainer Hürjet which Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is developing for the Turkish air force.

“We have been working on making changes in the design of Hürjet to operate on naval assets. We carried out several designs and made simulations. It has been seen that the design of its current form can evolve in this direction,“ Demir said.

However, the Forbes report warned that the Hürjet almost certainly won't be a very good shipborne fighter.

“The Hürjet is a typical training jet. Forty-two feet long with a 32-foot wingspan, the single-engine supersonic plane — which is in the same class as the Italian M346, Russian Yak-130 and Chinese JL-9, should work just fine as a trainer and light- attack plane,” the report said.

Many training jets have lower ratios. TAI hasn’t yet announced a power plant for the Hürjet, but it would need to be very powerful for the type to be effective as a carrier fighter, according to the report.

“Which means Anadolu is likely to sail without a fixed-wing plane. It’s a billion-dollar reminder of the continuing cost of Ankara’s F-35 screw-up,” the report concluded.