The Turkish Air Force has a total of 270 F-16C/D aircraft in its inventory, all of them Block 30/40/50 models. Turkey is one of five countries to locally produce F-16s.
Peace Onyx I
In September 1983, the government of Turkey announced plans to buy 132 F-16C's and 24 F-16D's under the Peace Onyx I program, which operates under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The first eight aircraft in the order were to be built at Fort Worth, but the remaining 148 aircraft were to be assembled in Turkey at TUSAS Aerospace Industries (TAI) at Akinci (formerly Mürted). TUSAS is an acronym which stands for Turkiye Ucak Sanayii AS, or Turkish Aircraft Industries, which is a company owned jointly by Turkish and American shareholders. Under the terms of Peace Onyx I, TAI is not allowed to sell its aircraft to any air force, including the THK. Consequently, F-16s built at Akinci have to be delivered first to the USAF, which then turns them over to the THK. In practice, each locally-built F-16 makes a flight to NAS Sigonella (or any other US base close to Turkey) where it performs a touch-and-go (obligatory; the aircraft has to touch US soil) and then flies back to Turkey.
The Turk Hava Kuvvetleri(THK, or Turkish Air Force) received its first two F-16s (both Lockheed-built Block 30 F-16C's, #86-0066 and #86-0067) as assembly kits in March of 1987, and Turkey officially received its first F-16D in a ceremony at Fort Worth in July of 1987. The first Turkish F-16C/D's arrived at Murted AB in October of 1987, followed by the first flight of a Turkish-built F-16C (#86-0068) on October 20th, 1987. Starting with the 44th aircraft (USAF serial number #88-0033), all THK F-16s from the first batch were manufactured to Block 40 standard. Production of the Peace Onyx I order ended with F-16C Block 40 #93-0014.
TAI has also been awarded a contract to build wings, center fuselages, and aft fuselages for USAF F-16s. They have also been awarded a contract to build 46 Block 40 F-16C/D's for the Egyptian Air Force under the Peace Vector IV program (to be delivered through the USAF of course).
Peace Onyx II
In March of 1992, a follow-on order for two batches of 40 Block 50 F-16C/D's (68 C's and 12 D's) was placed under the Peace Onyx II FMS program. The funding of the first 40 planes will be met primarily by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Emirates. Peace Onyx II started with the production of F-16 Block 50, serial number #93-0657. The program is worth some USD $3.5 billion. TEI (Turkish Engine Industries) will supply 96 F129 IPE engines, ASELSAN will produce 100 LN93-RLG. The Peace Onyx II aircraft were delevered from 1996 till 1997.
Peace Onyx III
During the nineties a second batch of 40 additional F-16C/D's had been ordered. These aircraft were intended as attrition replacements. Reportedly, the F-15 and F-18 were also in the running as replacement for the lost F-16s, though never made it due to logistical considerations. The Peace Onyx III aircraft were delivered between 1998 and 1999
Peace Onyx IV
In late 2006 there already were rumours that a new sale of F-16s to Turkey was imminent. However, Turkey had some disagreements with both the US government as with Lockheed over the deal. The US government wanted a Cyprus fly-over ban imposed on the aircraft and Lockheed couldn't meet up with the expected 2010-2011 delivery frame.
In May of 2007 a deal was finally reached and the problems with the US government evidently solved as well as the delivery schedule. This was achieved by allowing licence building of the aircraft at the TUSAS factory in Turkey, just as the other F-16s were mainly build in Turkey in the past. The order compromises of 30 F-16s and associated equipment to cover attrition and a stop-gap measure untill the arrival of the F-35 from 2015 onwards.
|Peace Onyx I||F-16C||Block 30||34||86-0066/86-0072
|Peace Onyx II||F-16C||Block 50||34||93-0657/93-0690||1996-1997|
|Peace Onyx III||F-16C||Block 50||26||94-0071/94-0096||1998-1999|
|Peace Onyx IV||F-16C||Block 50||14||07-1001/07-1014||2011-2012|
Modifications & Armament
Block 40 Modifications
The Peace Onyx I Block 40 aircraft are fitted with the GPS navigation system (LN-39 INS license-built by ASELSAN), APG-68(V) radar, automatic terrain-following radar, digital flight controls, more efficient chaff and flare dispensers, and the ability to carry AIM-7 and AIM-120 radar-guided BVR missiles. These Block 40 aircraft are also compatible with the LANTIRN low-level night navigation and attack system, and are powered by General Electric F110-GE-100 engines, which are built under license by TAI Engines at Eskisehir. In 1994, TAI began the Falcon-Up modification program on the Peace Onyx I aircraft, consisting mainly of structural improvements.
Block 50 Modifications
The Block 50 machines are equipped with the APG-68(V5) radar, a secure-voice communication system, new radar warning receivers, and the ability to carry and launch the AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missile. The introduction of the Block 50 gives the THK F-16 force true SEAD capabilities.
Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP)
In April of 2005 the Turkish government signed a LOA for the upgrade of 217 F-16s (38 block 30, 104 block 40, 76 block 50) totalling $3.9 billion if all options are exercised. The upgrade for the Turkish F-16s consist of the APG-68(V)9 multimode radar (currently being installed on new Advanced Block 50/52 F-16s), color cockpit displays and recorders, new core avionics processors, the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, Link 16 data link, advanced interrogator/transponder, integrated precision navigation, a unique electronic warfare system, and compatibility with a number of new weapons and targeting systems. This upgrade will see the Turkish F-16s use common hard- and software.
The THK has acquired a number of state-of-the art weapon systems for its F-16s, including AGM-65A/B Maverick TV-guided missiles and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. On October 9th, 1997, the US Department of Defense announced the possible sale to the government of Turkey of an additional 138 AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), 120 LAU-129A/A launchers, containers, spare and repair parts, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $62 million.
The TUAF has recently purchased POPEYE attack missiles from Israel to be used by both the F-16s and F-4E's upgraded by Israel.
Together with the signing of the CCIP contract in April of 2005, a number of new weapon systems are to be installed on the Turkish vipers, including AGM-84H (SLAM-ER), AIM-120C, AGM-154A/B, AIM-9X and CBU-103/105. A further number of other weapon systems will be integrated in the mission software of the F-16s, including IRIS-T, Python 5, Derby and Penguin.
Navigation & Targeting Pods
The Bandirma-based Block 40 F-16s were scheduled to receive the AN/AAQ-13 navigation and AN/AAQ-14 targeting pod of the LANTIRN system. These were the first F-16s outside the USAF to receive LANTIRN pods. 161 Filo received its first LANTIRN-equipped Block 40 F-16C in February 1994. By May of 1994, seven F-16s had received LANTIRN modifications locally, and the F-16s of 161 Filo were fully LANTIRN-equipped by the end of 1996. A total of 158 aircraft were modified to accept LANTIRN.
The Peace Onyx II Block 50 aircraft have the ability to fire the AGM-88 HARM. A batch of AGM-88 missiles was delivered to Turkey for its block 50 aircraft.
Peace Onyx I aircraft were originally fitted with the ALQ-178(V)3 Rapport III ECM systems. 160 passive and 122 active kits were installed. The Peace Onyx III F-16s were the first Turkish F-16s to be fitted with the Loral ALQ-178(V)5 Rapport III ECM system. The system was later installed on the Peace Onyx I & II aircraft as well.
The ALQ-131 countermeasures pod is reportedly in service, but the THK has declined to confirm this.
UnitsPlease refer to the F-16 Units section for an overview of units.
Aviano AB, Italy
Turkey has provided 18 F-16s to the allied campaign against Serbia - 11 stationed at the NATO base at Aviano, Italy, and the other seven at home. All of the planes were equipped with laser-guided bombs using the LANTIRN night-vision system. Turkish F-16s have been bombing targets in Yugoslavia, sharply increasing their involvement in the air war. Turkish jets previously had been patrolling Balkan airspace, providing protection for attacking planes. During this campaign, Turkish F-16s have set a world CAP record by patrolling for 9 hours and 22 minutes above the Balkan theatre. Normal CAP missions last between 3 and 4 hours.
Turkish F-16s are often used in the conflict against the PKK. Mostly they provide air cover for the ground forces.
Over the years, Turkish F-16s have often been involved in fights with Greek aircraft over the much disputed parts of the Aegean Sea. A lot of rumors exist on the aircraft shot down on both sides of the borders. We are working on a more accurate account of these events.
- Ahmet M. Cakmakci;
- Ilhan Olcay.