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Building the F-35 in a Small Garage

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.

About The Author

Burak Bekdil

Burak Bekdil is an Ankara-based Turkish political columnist who wrote for Hurriyet Daily News [formerly Turkish Daily News] for 29 years. He has covered Turkey for the U.S. weekly Defense News since 1997. Previously, Bekdil worked as Ankara Bureau Chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He contributes to annual national defense sector reviews for anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and Global Integrity. Bekdil is a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Gatestone Institute and Middle East Quarterly. He also contributes to Perspectives, a journal of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv. James Cuno, art historian and President of the J. Paul Getty Trust, describes Bekdil as "a frequent critic of Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan." In 2001, a Heavy Crimes Court in Ankara sentenced Bekdil to a suspended, 20-month prison sentence for his column in which he satirized corruption in the judiciary. Bekdil's comments, quotes and articles have been published in international media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, The Economist, BBC, The Guardian, Reuters, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Los Angeles Times, The Commentator, New York Times, Kathimerini, National Review Online, Algemeiner, NPR, Washington Times, Die Presse, Haaretz, The Jerusalem Post, Toronto Star, Financial Times, Al-Monitor, Le Figaro, ABC, El Pais, Stern, Al-Arabiya, Helsingin Sanomat, Racjonalista, Defence Greece, Moyen-Orient, Courier International, ISN Security Watch and Coloquio (of Congreso Judio Latinoamerico) and the Jewish Chronicle (London). (Born: Ankara, 1966; Undergraduate: Department of Economics, Middle East Technical University, Ankara; Post-graduate: Department of Economics, University of Surrey, United Kingdom)

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