Turkey is expected to complete a deal for 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets soon after US President Joe Biden signaled he would seek congressional authorization to approve a package estimated at $20 billion.
The U-turn comes after the Turkish government agreed to Sweden’s entry into NATO, the North Atlantic military alliance. Until then, President Tayyip Erdogan had resisted joining because of the Swedish government’s position in relation to the Kurds.
Most popular posts
In addition to new fighters, the package provides for upgrading 79 F-16s in service and also sending 900 air-to-air missiles and 800 bombs.
Turkey stopped receiving F-16 fighters in 2012 after closing an agreement to have 100 5th generation F-35 fighters. However, in 2020, the US government vetoed the shipment of aircraft after the country acquired S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia.
Having invested US$ 1.4 billion in the program, the Turkish government requested that the amount be used in the purchase of F-16 fighters.
The sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey bothers Greece, also a NATO ally, but which maintains a delicate relationship due to the sovereignty of islands in the Aegean Sea.
Partner in the F-16 fighter
Interestingly, Turkey has been a longtime partner of Lockheed Martin in the F-16 program. Since 1984, Turkish Aerospace Industries has participated in the production of the aircraft, having assembled almost 300 jets since then.
Even the export of F-16 fighters to Egypt was supported by TUSAŞ.
The company is currently developing a 5th generation stealth fighter, the Kaan, which is expected to make its maiden flight soon and enter service with the Turkish Air Force around 2030.