Turkey is the latest country to consider buying F-35Bs in order to field an “aircraft carrier in disguise.”
The Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported the news on February 27. According to the paper, along with the 100 F-35As that Turkey is planning on buying to replace its F-16s, a fleet of F-35Bs are also “planned to be procured in line with Ankara’s growing interest in strengthening its naval forces, mainly for overseas operations.”
IHS Jane’s confirmed Turkey’s interest in the the F-35B, citing Turkish and Western defense industry sources. According to IHS Jane’s “A senior Turkish Defence Industries undersecretariat official expressed his country’s interest in buying F-35 STOVL variants to Vice Admiral Mathias Winter, head of the US Defense Department’s F-35 programme office, during a meeting held in Ankara in mid-October.”
The F-35B is the Joint Strike Fighter variant that have short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) capabilities. This enables them to operate off of smaller ships because they don’t need as long of a runway. Notably, as the Hurriyet report points out, Turkey is currently building a Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD)/Amphibious Assault Ship, TCG Anadolu, that would be able to launch the F-35B from its flight deck.
Turkey signed an agreement in 2015 with the Spanish firm Navantia for help in building Anadolu. It will be designed by Navantia and based on the Spanish landing helicopter dock (LHD) Juan Carlos I. According to some media reports, besides designing the ship, Navantia will supply five sets of diesel generators and the IPMS (Integrated Platform Management System) for it. Navantia built the Juan Carlos I and two similar ships for Australia, the HMAS Canberra and the HMAS Adelaide.
Source: – The National Interest