Starfighters with Turkey

Last revised December 12, 1999






Turkey was one of the first NATO countries to receive Starfighters through Mutual Aid Program funding. Beginning in May of 1963, the Turk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK) received an initial batch of 32 F-104Gs built by Lockheed and Canadair, plus four TF-104Gs built by Lockheed. These aircraft equipped 141 and 142 Filo, plus an OCU, in AJU 4 at Murted.

In 1972, nine F-104Gs and two TF-104Gs from Spain to reinforce two squadrons in 9 Wing at Murted.

In late December of 1974, the first six of an initial batch of 18 F-104S interceptors were purchased new from Italy, with funds reportedly provided by Libya in return for Turkish assistance in building up the Libyan Arab Republic Air Force. These were delivered to 9 Wing. The remainder followed at a rate of three per month. The THK F-104S order was doubled in May of 1975, and finally increased to 40. These planes initially equipped Filos 142 and 182.

These aircraft took part in the 1976 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, but so far as I know Greek and Turkish Starfighters never faced off against each other.

Beginning in 1980-81, large numbers of CF-104/F-104G/TF-104Gs being phased out of service in Belgium, Canada, Germany, Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands began to be transferred to Turkey. 18 F-104Gs were transferred from Belgium in 1981-83. These were withdrawn by 1987. 43 F-104Gs (including 22 RFs) and 10 TF-104Gs were transferred from the Nethelands from August 1980 to March 1984. Nine RF-104G, 3 CF-104s, and one TF-104G were transferred from Norway in June and July of 1981. Fron October of 1980, 170 ex Luftwaffe Starfighters were delivered to the THK, the last ones arriving in 1988. Following their replacement in Canadian Forces service by CF-18s, 52 CF-104s (including six CF-104Ds) were transferred to Turkey following an extensive overhaul in Germany.

Over the years, the THK has received just over 400 Starfighters from various sources. The Turkish F-104s fulfilled both air defense and ground attack roles. Over the years, many THK Starfighters were either withdrawn from service or were cannibalized for spares to keep the others flying. Large numbers have also been lost in crashes, but no overall accident statistics are available.

Starfighters have equipped the following squadrons of the THK:

In 1987, the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon began to replace the F-104G in THK service. First to convert were 141 Filo and 142 Filo at Murted, which exchanged their F-104Gs for F-16s beginning in 1987. 161 and 162 Filo at Bandirma and 191 and 192 Filo at Balikesir had exchanged their Starfighters for F-16s by the early 1990s. Filo 181 finally relinquished its F-104Gs in favor of F-16s in April of 1994, marking the final departure of the F-104G from THK service. This still left Filo 182 with CF-104s, which it was scheduled to exchange for Block 50 F-16C/Ds during 1996.

Sources:


  1. The Lockheed F-104G/CF-104, Gerhard Joos, Aircraft in Profile No. 131, Doubleday, 1969.

  2. The World's Great Interceptor Aircraft, Gallery Books, 1989.

  3. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, Steve Pace, Motorbooks International, 1992.

  4. Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1987.

  5. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, John Fricker, Wings of Fame, Vol 2, Aerospace Publishing Ltd, 1996.