Burak Bekdil - Hürriyet / Istanbul, Apriy 27 () - Turkey’s top defense procurement panel, the Defense Industry Executive Committee, is expected to hold an unscheduled meeting April 27 to discuss two major aerospace programs.
The committee (SSIK in its Turkish acronym), chaired by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, is leaning toward a decision to pick up aircraft maker Dornier’s jet as a base model to build what will become a “Turkish regional jet,” officials said.
The Hürriyet Daily News reported last month that Turkey’s aerospace authorities had silently launched studies into an ambitious program to design, develop and manufacture the country’s first indigenous regional jet. Under the plan, scores of jet aircraft will be manufactured for both civilian and military use. Under its regional jet program, Turkey wants to take a commercially available aircraft body as a “base and starting point.”
Turkey has been in quiet, preliminary talks with Dornier to take either of its D328 or D428 models as a primary body for the Turkish regional jet.
The Dornier 328 is a turboprop-powered commuter airliner. It was initially produced by Dornier Luftfahrt GmbH, which in 1996 was acquired by Fairchild Aircraft and renamed Fairchild-Dornier. The Dornier 328 was produced at the company’s Germany plant and sold worldwide from its Texas offices. Fairchild Dornier also undertook the Fairchild Dornier 428JET program to develop a 44-seat regional jet.
Aviation industry sources say the licensing rights for the Dornier series of jet aircraft presently are held by a Turkish businessman who resides in the United States.
In addition to its civilian use, Turkish officials are planning to produce hundreds of regional jets for military missions in both the Navy and the Air Force. These missions could include aerial and naval surveillance, border surveillance and small cargo transport, they said.
Defense officials also said the top procurement officials at the SSIK meeting will likely agree to allocate funds up to $1 billion for the second phase of the Turkish national fighter jet program.
At a Jan. 7 meeting of the SSIK, the government agreed to progress with the fighter program. Turkey wants to build its first indigenous fighter aircraft by 2023.