Building the F-35 in a Small Garage
The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) is a U.S.-led, multinational programme to build the new generation F-35 stealth fighter.
The programme is worth $382 billion, or about half of Turkey’s annual GDP.
Turkey has been a partner in the JSF consortium since the project took off. It has committed to acquire at least 100 stealth fighters for its Air Force, a deal worth around $160 billion.
Now that the Americans are threatening to suspend F-35 deliveries to Turkey –unless Ankara gives up its planned purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air and anti-missile defence system—a golden opportunity seems to have been born for the ailing Turkish economy.
Some hocus-pocus, blended with limitless self-aggrandising behaviour and the national Turkish pride could earn Turkey tens of billions of dollars thanks to advanced aerospace science standards of the country.
(Over) self-confidence is often a Turkish quality. With the newfound pride and a national belief that “we are reviving our glorious (imperial) past several Turks have displayed amazing courage in volunteering for miracles – political, scientific, commercial or other. Shows of individual limitless self-confidence have become a national pastime, reminding the world this column’s motto: Turkey is fun – unless you have to live in it.
Most recently, a small shop-owner in Antalya (a mechanic) sent a message to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his Twitter account. Rasim Küçük wrote: “Esteemed Mr President. Give me support. I’ll make the same F-35 for you with my shop-owner friends.”
Mr Küçük is the average Turk: A small mechanic, he probably does not hold an engineering degree from a credible university. But he is a brave heart type, probably with blind faith that his nation, once an imperial power, could make miracles only because they are Turks and Sunni Muslims. Including building the F-35 in a small garage.
It would be fun to sponsor Mr Küçük in his truly self-confident venture and see what stealth fighter jet he would build. Fun in both ways: he succeeds and becomes the first Turk to win a Nobel science prize. Or he fails on his aircraft’s maiden flight – which a government bigwig should ideally honour to be his co-pilot.
Turkey is fun.