US does not allow Turkey’s F-16s to drop domestic ammunition
Turkey will not be allowed to arm newly purchased F-16s with Turkish indigenously developed munitions. It is about the eventual acquisition of 40 F-16 Block 70 fighters. The remaining modifications of armament in the Turkish Air Force – Block 30, Block 40 and Block 50 can use Turkish ammunition.
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The news comes after a statement from the president of the defense industry, Mr. Ismail Demir. Asked by journalists, he made the following statement: “We cannot drop domestic ammunition from the F-16 Block 70, which you will buy from abroad. You can drop your own ammo from blocks 30, 40 and 50.”
If true, this condition from Washington will not change the situation with the modernization of the Turkish F-16s. The condition sounds more like part of a set of conditions that Turkey must ensure it meets in order to receive the latest F-16 modifications.
At the same time, however, the US is not only guaranteeing itself greater sales, since it will have to sell Block 70 weapons to Turkey, but also long-term ones. Mr. Demir did not say in his statement whether Ankara agreed to such a condition. But even if it is not real, if he wants new F-16s, he will obviously have to comply with it.
Mr. Demir’s statement reveals another piece of information – Turkey has indeed made serious progress in modernizing American aircraft with its own domestic technology. Take, for example, the radar of the aging Turkish F-16s. Currently, the original radar is not capable of responding to modern warfare. Turkey’s Aselsan, however, has developed its own AESA radar, which not only provides a view of hundreds of kilometers, but also an F-16 attack at a greater than current distance.
Turkey has entered into a serious intergovernmental and trade conflict with the US in recent years. The purchase of the Russian air defense system not only kicked Turkey out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter [JSF] program, but also affected the supply and maintenance of already owned US weapons. The obsolete Turkish F-16s also fell into this category.
That is why Ankara initiated its own modernization program called Özgür. Advertised heavily by Ankara, this program proved to be very successful. Under the national resource program, Turkish F-16s will receive a new mission computer, new flight software, a new flight control computer, a new digital cockpit, a new AESA radar, as well as new armament.
Besides the locally developed AESA radar, another extremely important component is the mission computer. Thanks to it, Turkish F-16s will be able to put under their wings all Turkish air-to-ground, air-to-air missiles, as well as glide bombs.
As for the modernization, it is already in full force. According to statements in the Turkish media, the first F-16 Block 30 have already been modernized. After all the inventory from Block 30 has been modernized, the modernization of Blocks 40 and 50 is to come.
Turkish media reports that this is actually the first phase of the Ozgur project. When all F-16 fighter jets pass through Phase-2 at Ozgüz, then, according to local experts, Turkish F-16s will come significantly closer to the latest version of the F-16 Block 70.
Turkey will modernize 79 F-16 fighters. If Ankara is given permission to acquire Block 70, the Balkan nation’s F-16 fleet will reach 119 aircraft. The request, which is being reviewed by the US State Department, will be finalized with the approval of the US Congress. However, some senators and representatives in the US Congress oppose Turkey’s request for the F-16 Block 70.
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