May 11, 2007 / 1:22 PM / 12 years ago

Turkey signs $1.78 bln deal to buy warplanes

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ANKARA, May 11 (Reuters) - Turkey signed a $1.78 billion deal on Friday to buy 30 F-16 fighter jets from U.S.-based Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N).

The deal is part of an ambitious programme to modernise Turkey’s armed forces, the second largest in NATO after those of the United States with an annual procurement budget of more than $4 billion.

Under the agreement, the aircraft will be produced, assembled, tested and delivered by Turkish aerospace firm Tusas in Ankara, Defence Minister Vecdi Gonul told reporters.

In March, Italy’s Agusta Westland, owned by Finmeccanica SpA SIFI.MI, won a tender worth $2.7 billion to supply Turkey with 50 combat helicopters. They too will be produced in Turkey.

In its biggest ever procurement project, Turkey signed a memorandum of understanding in January to buy 100 F-35 joint strike fighters worth nearly $10.7 billion over the next 15 years under a programme led by Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin is the top supplier to the Pentagon.

((Reporting by Zerin Elci, writing by Gareth Jones, editing by Matthew Tostevin; Reuters Messaging: gareth.jones.reuters.com@reuters.net; Ankara newsroom +90 312 292 7012)) Keywords: TURKEY LOCKHEED/F 16

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