According to Ragıp Soylu, the publication’s Ankara representative, the US government encouraged Turkey to request the purchase of a slew of new Lockheed Martin-made Viper class F-16 fighter jets, as well as modernisation kits for its existing warplanes”.
Turkey learned through a Greek publication that the government sent a letter of request on 40 F-16s and 80 modernisation kits last month after being removed from the F-35 programme. According to reports, the Biden Administration assessed the purchase to be worth $6 billion. The US administration said that it took this move in response to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian air missile defence system S-400s. Turkey is presently subject to CAATSA sanctions as a result of its S-400 acquisition. The Biden administration also says that the sanctions would be more severe if Turkey got the second set of equipment. Something Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already stated in a television interview in the United States.
Turkish fighters require modernisation as the fleet gets near completing its flying hours' limits. Turkish Aerospace (TUSAŞ) is responsible for the development of Turkey’s indigenous TF-X aircraft. The company aims to roll it out in 2023.
According to the MEE report, Turkey negotiated Turkey’s place in NATO and the weapons balance between Turkey and Greece, with the latter receiving F-16, F-35, and French Rafaels.
“The US officials never told us that the modernisation of F-16 was something out of reach,” the official said. “We believe Washington would be mindful of the Turkish and Greek balance as well,” alluding to Greece’s acquisition of French aircraft.
Like the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), some Washington-based lobbying NGOs have already launched the “No Jets for Turkey” campaign to urge the administration and Congress to halt the process.