According to Bloomberg, the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI)’s next-generation fighter program, the TFX, will be delayed as a result of the British government’s decision to monitor Turkey’s political climate in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In December 2015, BAE Systems was shortlisted as the leading the vendor to assist TAI in designing and developing the TFX, coming ahead of Sweden’s Saab and Airbus Defence & Space (Flight Global).
TAI and BAE were to finalize their agreement over the next several weeks, but the failed coup attempt that took place in July and the subsequent events that had occurred as a result of it pushed London to monitor the situation before letting BAE fully commit to the program.
Bloomberg noted that the British government’s decision to slow the process is “another example of how relations between Turkey and its western neighbors have soured.”
However, with long-term uncertainty looming over Britain’s economic climate (in the aftermath of the Brexit vote), BAE has much to gain from the success of the TFX.
In addition to the Turkish Air Force’s own requirements (of 250 TFX aircraft), BAE could also accrue ancillary gains from TFX exports to third-party clients.
With the F-35 still confined to a very limited pool of buyers (mostly within NATO and the U.S.’s closest allies), the TFX has the potential to secure sales in the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia.
Furthermore, if BAE is unable to commit, then another vendor – such as Saab – could step in to fill the void. Bloomberg’s source expects that the TAI-BAE deal will be finalized by the end of 2016.