Leonardo eyes part in Turkey’s fighter jet project

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Italy’s leading high-tech and defense company Leonardo is interested in supporting Turkey’s indigenous fifth generation fighter jet project, TF-X, mainly on the avionics side, top representatives from the company have announced.

Leonardo is ready to share its 60-year-experience and expertise in supplying avionics for the most advanced combat aircraft to customers, such as the Italian Air Force and the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, and to actively support the Turkish industry to deliver the TF-X new generation fighter, Chris Bushell, the airborne systems director for major air programs at Leonardo, told a group of journalists on April 26.

“We are looking forward to discuss cooperation opportunities in the avionics and sensors part for the project,” said Bushell, adding that there are four main areas in such fifth generation aircraft, namely the aircraft body, engine, avionics (and sensors) and weapons.

On the aircraft body development side, the U.K.’s BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI), the prime local contractor of the TF-X project, signed an agreement last year to collaborate on the first development phase of the jet.

For the engine side, negotiations are still ongoing with various companies, according to sector professionals.

Last year, Turkey’s Kale Group and the U.K.’s Rolls Royce established a joint venture with the aim of developing engines for Turkey’s first national fighter jet.

Leonardo has been a business partner of Turkey for more than 40 years, participating in major civilian and military projects, such as the T-129 helicopter with TAI, the Meltem 3 coastal patrol program, air defense radars, naval sensors, defense systems and more recently, the Göktürk satellite program.

“Our company has a significant industrial presence in four domestic markets, namely Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Poland. We are also in strategic partnerships in our key high potential international markets,” Leonardo Chief Commercial Director Lorenzo Mariani said during the meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the Eurasia Airshow in Antalya.

Since the late 1980s, the company has been active in Turkey and has developed key cooperation with Turkish companies, such as TAI, he said, while praising high industrial production capabilities in Turkey, which they have seen in their helicopter development business with TAI.

C-27J showcased in Antalya

In Antalya, Leonardo also exhibited its C-27J, “the most advanced multi-mission airlifter available on the market today” according to a follow-up released by the company.

“We believe our C-27J is the best choice, and we think Turkey deserves the best military platform for the challenging scenarios in which the country operates,” Mariani said.

Thanks to the widest cabin in its category, unrivalled maneuverability, the interoperability with heavier airlifters like the C-130 and the A400M, and with a climb rate allowing it to reach 10,000 feet in around five minutes, the C-27J has the capacity to carry significant loads and still access small, soft, narrow runways in any weather condition and is convenient mainly for special operations, according to company representatives.

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