A major UK arms deal with Turkey is reported to be in trouble today after aero-engine group Rolls-Royce became involved in a row over ownership of its leading-edge technology.
Rolls-Royce is bidding to supply the engines for the new "fifth-generation" TF-X stealth fighter jet which Turkey is developing as its first home-produced combat aircraft. British Aerospace is also involved and last year signed a £100m contract with Turkish Aerospace Industries to help design the jet.
The Anglo-Turkish collaboration has been hailed as a key to the long-term future of the UK aerospace sector as it will provide for continuing combat aircraft design expertise after production of the Eurofighter Typhoon comes to an end, sometime in the 2020s.
The Rolls-Royce EJ200 engines from the Eurofighter have been tipped as the likely powerplant for the TF-X, and the UK company has been working with the Turkish industrial giant Kale to bid for the contract.
However Rolls-Royce has been asked by Turkish defence officials to share sensitive technology with a Turkish company, which it is reported to be unwilling to do.
The issue is regarded as so sensitive that Gavin Williamson, Britain’s defence minister, is understood to be discussing directly it with his Turkish counterpart, Nurettin Canikli.
A failure to reach agreement might call into question BAE Systems’ own involvement with the project. The collaboration was announced last year by Prime Minister Theresa May on an official visit to Istanbul.
A spokesperson for Rolls-Royce said: "We view what is going on as a normal part of negotiations around a development of this type, and as part of this we are we maintaining an active dialogue".