Erdogan says US, not Turkey, proposed F-16 sale

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated yesterday that the United States had provided to promote dozens of F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to Ankara as compensation for Turkey’s expensive expulsion from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Reuters beforehand reported that Turkey had formally submitted a request to the United States to purchase 40 F-16s and dozens of extra modernization kits for Ankara’s present fleet, following a report in a Greek newspaper.

The United States eliminated Turkey from a listing of Western-allied nations allowed to buy the fifth-generation F-35 plane after Ankara purchased Russia’s S-400 missile protection system in 2017.

American officers over two US administrations have insisted the S-400 poses a risk to the F-35. Turkey acquired its first S-400 unit in 2019 and later reportedly examined its monitoring system on F-16s.

Ankara paid $1.four billion towards an preliminary order of as much as 100 F-35 jets. Several of the jets had already been in manufacturing by the point of Turkey’s ejection from this system. Last 12 months, the US Air Force bought eight of these accomplished F-35s, however Turkey’s authorities has but to be reimbursed.

Erdogan informed reporters on Wednesday that Washington proposed the brand new F-16 sale as a approach for Ankara to recoup its misplaced funding.

“There is the payment of $1.4 billion we have made for the F-35s and the US had such a proposal in return for these payments,” Erdogan informed reporters earlier than heading on an official go to to West Africa on Sunday, in response to Reuters.

“We said, let’s take whatever steps are needed to be taken to meet the defense needs of our country,” the Turkish president stated.

Turkey’s fleet of F-16s is growing old, with nearly 100 of the jets requiring upgrades to increase their lifespan. Without the F-35, the F-16 is slated to stay the first fighter jet in Turkey’s air power till Turkey’s personal indigenous stealth fighter, the TF-X, can progress additional into growth.

The F-16 sale proposal may show to be a significant olive department at a low level in US-Turkey relations. An unprecedented rift between the 2 NATO allies triggered by the S-400 buy has opened solely wider in recent times, as Turkey scorns US assist for Kurdish fighters in Syria amid the struggle towards the Islamic State.

Erdogan is about to satisfy with US President Joe Biden in Rome later this month, marking the second assembly for the reason that latter took workplace in January.

Earlier this month the Turkish president met together with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. After the closed-door assembly, Erdogan boasted that his authorities could be trying into an array of potential joint protection tasks with Russia.

Erdogan’s feedback had been an obvious snub to the Biden administration, which has threatened to impose extra sanctions on Turkey ought to it buy extra Russian army {hardware}.

The Trump administration positioned restricted sanctions on Turkey’s fundamental state-run protection procurement physique final 12 months after Ankara test-fired the S-400.

The United States can select to exempt the Turkish Presidency of Defense Industries for sure arms transfers, however Erdogan’s reputation in Congress stays at a nadir.