Eurofighter: Labor unions are unanimous ‘Let’s sell to Turkey’

It’s commonly acknowledged that Turkey has an interest in purchasing 40 Eurofighter Typhoons, given they suspect the US won’t sell them a comparable number of F-16 Block-70s. This suspicion is due to Turkey’s alignment with Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization, combined with their urgent need to upgrade their Air Force’s fleet of aging fighter jets. 

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Photo: Eurofighter Typhoon

However, when it comes to securing the Eurofighter Typhoon, President Erdogan hits a snag. Gaining support from Germany and Chancellor Solz has proven challenging. 

Interestingly, an ally has emerged in Turkey’s quest. German unions are rallying behind Turkey’s endeavor to secure the Eurofighter, driven by a concern over potential job losses if contracts for the aircraft aren’t established and executed.

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Photo credit: Pixabay

The manufacturing of the Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft involves a consortium from Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and Spain, represented through Airbus, BAE Systems, and Leonardo. 

Turkey’s Defense Minister, Yasar Guler, voiced his ongoing negotiations with Britain and Spain for purchasing Typhoons. However, Germany has proven resistant to the concept. 

In a recent meeting on Thursday, Mr. Guler discussed the matter with his British counterpart, Grand Sappé, in Ankara. Their mutual hope lies in convincing Germany to revise their request, as it currently hinders a potential deal to sell another set of aircraft to Saudi Arabia. 

Eurofighter: Labor unions are unanimous 'Let's sell to Turkey'
Photo credit: Wallpaper Flare

According to MTU Aero Engines, a leading aero engine manufacturer, landing contracts for Eurofighter construction are critical for the future survival of defense manufacturing within Germany. A spokesman implied urgency, stating: “Necessary adjustments must be made soon to ensure our positions are future-ready. This necessitates dependable planning, especially in the military sector, concerning the future of the Eurofighter. Starting a contract for its further development before this period ends is essential.”

“The conclusion of the Eurofighter program is set to cause considerable layoffs among the European high-tech supplier community in a matter of years. It’s crucial to preserve these skilled workers and production assets, with an eye towards the future European FCAS [Future Combat Air System].” 

“The expertise of the engineers dedicated to the Eurofighter’s ongoing enhancement is invaluable. Without appropriate opportunities, these professionals may shift to other sectors. By focusing on sustained development of the Eurofighter, we are laying the groundwork for a robust influence of the German aerospace industry and its suppliers in future European technology initiatives.” 

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“It’s imperative for Europe to fortify its defense prowess. Therefore, we mustn’t lean mostly on US resources as we have of late.” 

Airbus applauds the intention to sign fresh agreements for the sale of Eurofighters emanating from Germany. Michael Reich, political secretary and operating director at Airbus, the manufacturer of Eurofighters, declared that ratifying these contracts was pivotal for Germany to confirm its “military autonomy”. He said: “We, at IG Metall, insist that public funds should come attached with requirements such as the sustained enhancement of the Eurofighter.” 

Reich emphasized that secure jobs and supply chains are essential for attaining independence in military aviation. He was vocal in his support for Thomas Pretzl, the Chairman of the Airbus Defense and Space Works Council, in asserting that anyone arguing for a new era must advocate for the purchase of the Eurofighter.

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“Regrettably, the consistency in the actions of politicians often lacking. However, the reality remains that unless an order is placed now for the continued development and creation of more Eurofighters, the subsequent administration will be left with no options but to purchase American fighters. While this might seem beneficial for Germany, it’s essential to anticipate the implications.” The German aviation industry engages over 25,000 individuals and incorporates more than 120 companies.

“The Turkish Question”

Discussions have begun between Turkey and various European nations following Turkey’s acknowledgment that its bid to procure F-16 fighter jets from the United States may fail. This development was reported by a source within the Turkish defense ministry on Thursday. Back in October 2021, Turkey had expressed interest in purchasing 40 F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp, along with 79 upgrade kits to enhance their current lineup of fighter aircraft. 

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Despite initial signs of approval from US President Joe Biden’s administration for the whopping $20 billion deal, a roadblock has emerged in the form of congressional opposition. This resistance comes in response to Turkey’s hesitation to support Sweden’s membership in NATO. 

Turkey’s defense ministry released a statement, indicating Mr Guler’s interest in strengthening partnerships with Britain across various sectors. A key focus of these collaborations would be Turkey’s national Kaan fighter jet and Eurofighter Typhoon fighters. The delivery of aircraft was also brought up during the meeting. This was brought to light by Mr Shapps’ report on the proceedings.

Regional balances

F-16s are late, so Turkey is considering acquiring 40 Typhoons
Photo credit: Krasimir Grozev

Defense analyst Tayfun Özberk offers his insight, “Turkey’s pursuit of a technologically advanced warplane isn’t much of a secret, especially when considering regional power balances. The push to secure Eurofighters could be a strategic move to pressure the Biden administration and prompt Congress to approve the sale of F-16s.” 

Professor of International Relations at Kadir Has University in Istanbul, Serhat Guvenc, suggests, “The Typhoons could be Turkey’s final opportunity to keep a foothold in the Western defense industry.” 

He continues, “The switch to Eurofighters might cause some operational hiccups, given that the Turkish Air Force follows an American-inspired system. However, since the Eurofighter is a collaborative project of NATO members, interoperability issues are unlikely.” 

F-16s are late, so Turkey is considering acquiring 40 Typhoons
Photo by Chris Lofting

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized his readiness to look elsewhere if German Chancellor Olaf Scholz opposes. “We have various sources to acquire fighter jets,” declared Erdogan. 

Notably, Turkey isn’t alone in its predicament. Germany has also stalled the accomplishment of a long-standing order from Saudi Arabia. 

Saudi Arabia’s desire to purchase 48 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters faces delays due to Germany’s complex coalition politics, impacting the confirmation of a delivery date. This interruption could cost German defense companies a significant sum of approximately 2.3 billion euros [$2.51 billion] in revenue by 2026.

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