Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that the US had made an offer to sell 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to the country as compensation for its exclusion from the F-35 program.
According to Erdogan, Turkey invested $1.4 billion to acquire more than 100 5th gen F-35 jets. However, the US government removed the country from the program after purchasing Russia’s S-400 defense missile system.
The alleged agreement would also be a way to prevent Turkey from closing a deal with Russia to receive the Sukhoi Su-35 and Su-57 fighters.
The Russian proposal is considered an alternative if the US refuses to supply the F-16 jets. “If the United States does not approve a deal on the F-16s after the situation with F-35 aircraft, no alternatives will be left for Turkey. The issue of Su-35 and Su-57 planes may surface again at any time,” said Head of Turkey’s Defense Industry Ismail Demir on Monday.
The Turkish Air Force is a traditional customer of Western manufacturers. The fighter jet fleet comprises 48 former F-4E and 245 F-16C/D fighter jets.