Turkey's F-16 Block 70 Demand Could Turn To A Non-US Alternative

Turkey's F-Block Demand Could Turn To A Non-US Alternative
Turkey's F-Block Demand Could Turn To A Non-US Alternative

Turkish officials are expressing their displeasure as the deal has stalled and the country is forced to make difficult economic decisions and are considering canceling plans to purchase the F-16 Blok 70 from the United States.

Cagri Erhan, the President's deputy in charge of security and foreign affairs, recently claimed that Turkey's request for F-16 Block 70 planes from the United States was a mistake because the agreement is still stuck and his country is still trying to heal the wounds of recent earthquakes.

While US politicians continue to block the $20 billion potential sale of F-16 aircraft, many Turkish officials share this view and are making it official.

According to Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, the F-16 is not the only option and we hope that common sense will prevail so that the United States will analyze the issue as a whole and decide and act accordingly.

Technical talks have been continuing between the two countries since last October, following Turkey's proposal to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets from the United States and about 16 modernization kits for the current F-80 fleet.

Ankara's attitude, at least in public, seems to have changed, suggesting that demand may be withdrawn.

Turkey is home to the largest F-250 force outside the USA with approximately 16 aircraft. These planes need updating because some of them are close to 30 years old.

However, Turkey also needs new aircraft to increase its air power capacity until its fifth generation fighter aircraft production reaches maximum capacity.

The F-35A was Ankara's original option, but was dropped from the program in 400 after purchasing Russian S-2019 air defense missile systems.

According to Douglas Barrie, senior researcher in military aviation and space at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), Turkey's pursuit of US fighter jets has become more political, reflecting tensions between Washington and Ankara.

These problems go back at least to Turkey's intention to purchase the Russian Almaz-Antey S-400 Triumf (RS-SA-21 Growler) followed by the failure of the Lockheed Martin F-35 order. Turkey's hesitation to approve Finland and Sweden's NATO membership also damaged relations.

Although Turkey continues to oppose the approval of Sweden and Finland's NATO memberships, it seems unlikely that the US Congress will approve the sale of the F-16 while it is still under unofficial consideration.

In January, Democratic Senator Bob Menendez made statements pointing to this. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "continues to violate international law, disregard human rights and democratic standards, and engage in alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and its neighboring NATO partners," the statement said.

To compensate for its mistake in the purchase of the S-400, Turkey is trying to create a domestic air defense system that can replace Russian equipment.

After the terrible earthquake that shook southeast Turkey and Syria, the Balkan-Asian country's attitude towards the sale of the F-16 has changed once again.

In an interview with Russian media, Erhan said: “I think after the earthquakes, Turkey will give up on the F-16 request because it costs $20 billion.” Without going into any detail, he added that F-16 jets were "outdated and uncompetitive".

Turkey's Alternative Strategies

Other options include the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 or Su-57, the Chinese J-10 and others that Ankara has not publicly confirmed.

According to Barrie, time will tell whether the rhetoric about a replacement plane for Block 70 is just intimidating.

'Russia has already tried to attract Turkey's attention to warplanes, but this is now more difficult politically and economically because of Moscow's aggression in Ukraine. The Chinese option is unlikely but not impossible, while the European alternative is still conceivable.

Still, Ankara may not get the independence it wants from the US by purchasing European jets.

Moreover, Turkey's Aselsan is working to build its own MURAD active electronically scanned array (AESA) fire control radar to be integrated into both F-16 aircraft and the Turkish Air Force's Akıncı UAVs.

Although this effort started before the tremors, it shows that Turkey is still determined to retrieve the US jet.

A source informing Shephard said that although the radar system of the F-16 has not been completed yet, it will be fully integrated into Akıncı by the beginning of 2023.

Senior defense expert Onur Kara said that there is another issue that needs to be taken into account regarding natural disasters.

Kara continued his words as follows: “The Turkish army used cargo planes and helicopters so much during the earthquake that it lost one of its pilots in an accident. Some argue that the country needs more large transport helicopters rather than warplanes, but this is only hypothetical at the moment.

source: shephardmedia

Günceleme: 19/03/2023 20:30

Similar Ads