Theresa May and Turkish President Recep Erdogan announced a £100m joint scheme to build fighter jets
BAE Systems and TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries) yesterday signed a “Heads of Agreement” which will establish a partnership for the continued development of the ambitious TF-X fighter programme.
The contract has the potential to lead to further multibillion pound contracts between the UK and Turkish firms over the lifetime of the project.
Turkey, which is a key Nato member, has previously indicated that it only wants to deal with one defence partner – meaning the deal will help the UK defence industry push into new markets, an effort that has gained importance since Britain voted to leave the European Union.
This agreement marks the start of a new and deeper trading relationship with Turkey
The wider programme could see the UK win contracts to provide engines, weapons, radars and sensors.
It is thought Turkey could buy around 250 TF-X aircraft and will underline the two countries trading links as Mrs May began informal talks about a free trade deal between Turkey and the UK when she made her first visit to the country yesterday, meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Speaking in Ankara the Prime Minister said: “This agreement underlines once again that Britain is a great, global, trading nation and that we are open for business.
BAE systems and their Turkish counterpart TAI have signed an agreement to work on the TF-X programme
“It marks the start of a new and deeper trading relationship with Turkey and will potentially secure British and Turkish jobs and prosperity for decades to come.”
BAE Systems chief executive Ian King, added: “BAE Systems is a leader in designing, manufacturing and supporting fighter aircraft and is in an excellent position to contribute technical and engineering expertise and experience of managing complex projects to this key Turkish programme.“
The deal to develop the jet had been on hold after the attempted coup against President Erdogan in July and the sales come amid mounting concerns about the abuse of human rights.
Turkish Military Coup: 294 dead
Wed, July 27, 2016
THE violent military coup to overthrow Turkey's President Erdogan has 'failed' leaving at least 104 dead and more than 1,500 wounded – but reports suggest fighting is still ongoing
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People react after they take over military position on the Bosphorus bridge in Istanbul on July 16, 2016
Theresa May became the first Western leader to meet with Erdogan since 2016's coup attempt
Since July’s failed coup more than 125,000 people have been dismissed or suspended from their jobs and around 40,000 others arrested.
Mrs May, who became the first western leader to meet with Mr Erdogan since the failed coup, was expected to raise the issue of alleged human rights abuses during her private meeting with the president yesterday.
A Number 10 source said: “We have already expressed our strong support for Turkey’s democracy and institutions following the coup – but we have also been clear that we urge Turkey to ensure that their response is proportionate, justified and in line with international human rights obligations.