Here’s how Turkey will upgrade F-16 Block 30, 40, and 50 to Block 70
ANKARA, TURKEY — It appears that Turkey will not limit itself to the modernization of F-16 Block 30. According to Turkish journalists citing Prof. Dr. Ismail Demir, Block 40 and Block 50 will also undergo an upgrade to Block 70.
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A project to upgrade the existing Turkish F-16 fleet is known as Ozgur [ÖZGÜR]. Until now, it was known that with local resources, Turkey will modernize the outdated Block 30. In a statement to CNN Turkiye, Dr. Demir announced an expansion of the scope of the project affecting Block 40 and Block 50. Actually, this is the first official statement directly aimed at the future of F -16 Block 40 and F-16 Block 50.
Turkey hopes to acquire at least 40 more F-16 Block 70 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. So far, however, such a desire has not coincided with some political attitudes in Washington. There is still resistance in the US to such a deal, although last week there were calls from military and political circles in Washington for the sale to go through.
Ankara, for its part, is preparing to modernize its existing F-16 fleet with its own funds. At the beginning of March, Turkey announced that it would consider the submitted proposal for the purchase of new F-16s, and there is a possibility that it will be withdrawn. A similar possibility was mentioned by Mr. Cagri Erhan, a member of the Presidential Commission on Security and Foreign Policy in Turkey in interviews with local and Russian media.
The Ozgur program envisages large-scale modernization. What Turkey can produce and give to its fleet of F-16 fighters is not at all small. For example, the program envisages that Blocks 30, 40, and 50 will receive a completely new digital cockpit. This includes MFDs also produced in the country.
The three F-16 models will also get new digital gauges to give the aircraft’s engine, hydraulics, and fuel status. A key part of the upgrade will be the integration of a locally produced equivalent of Link 16 – the main communications hub in NATO aircraft working to recognize other systems as “friend-foe”.
The new F-16 Block 70 has a warning system when the aircraft is dangerously close to the surface. It’s called the Digital Terrain System. According to the Ozgur program, Turkey is working on its version to be integrated into the domestic fighter fleet.
Digital map integration and internal/external NVIS compatibility are provided. New GPS capabilities and ASELPOD will also be upgraded to more modern solutions. Of course, the biggest part of the entire modernization process under the program will be the integration of the new Turkish AESA radar.
However, the upgrade will not only affect the aircraft’s software and hardware. Turkey has long been rumored to be developing its own versions of weapons that are part of the original Block 70 weapons package. As recently as July last year, Turkey successfully tested the Merlin and Peregrin missiles, which will replace the American AIM-120 AMRAAM.
Turkey has embarked on ambitious transformations to ensure independence in terms of the level of the country’s future defense capabilities. It is known that Turkey has become independent in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles of all classes. It is currently working on a project that will overcome the lack of an F-35, through the local TAI TF-X, which did its first taxi test on a runway just a week ago.
If we delve deeper into the intentions of the Turkish defense industry, we will find that Ankara is trying to become independent in terms of supplies from France as well. For example, as early as last year it became clear that Turkey had developed its own version of the Roketsan cruise missile propulsion engine. Thus, at some point, Ankara will be able to safely abandon the used French Safran engines.
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