ANKARA, ($1=8.99 Turkish Liras) – Turkey has asked to buy 40 F-16 fighters from the United States, as well as to modernize about 80 fighters of the same type that Ankara already has, BulgarianMilitary.com has learned, citing FOCUS News Agency.
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The situation is surprising given the strained relations between Washington and Ankara over the purchase of Russian S-400 complexes. As a result, sanctions were imposed on the heads of Turkey’s military-industrial complex, and the F-35 production and purchase project was frozen.
Now, however, information is emerging about the deal with the F-16, which is estimated at billions. However, it is still being investigated by the US State Department and the relevant government agency, which is part of the Pentagon.
Even if the agency approves the deal, it could be blocked by the US Congress. Republicans and Democrats are calling on the Washington administration to put pressure on Ankara to buy Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.
In late September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not rule out the possibility of Ankara starting cooperation with Moscow in some areas, including shipbuilding and the development of fighter jets.
Military sales are frozen
As we announced back in August 2020, for almost two years [now three – ed.], members of the US Congress have been blocking arms deals for Turkey. The reason is the same – the purchase of the Russian air defense system S-400 and the activation by Ankara.
The exact number of blocked contracts is not disclosed, but it is stated that at least two of them are large. One of these contracts concerns the modernization of F-16 fighters. This information was then confirmed by the American edition of Defense News.
The defense industry then signaled that such actions could ruin relations between the contractors and Turkey would start looking for new partners.
The United States resorted to similar measures in 1975 after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The United States then suspended arms sales to Turkey for three years.
The case S-400
The reason Turkey currently does not have fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighters is Ankara’s decision to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia two years ago. This has caused dissatisfaction in both the United States and NATO member states.
Although NATO remained somewhat isolated from the dispute and more conservative in its statements, the United States took decisive action and expelled Turkey from the F-35 project. In addition to depriving Ankara of the opportunity to receive new fighters, this led to economic sanctions from Washington, which further aggravated the situation.
Turkey, for its part, is not giving up on Russian air defense systems. Described as the best in the world at the moment, Turkish officials have repeatedly stated that the price at which they were offered to buy the S-400 is much lower than the one that Washington has offered for its Patriots.
The situation is even more complicated, and Turkey’s chances of acquiring new F-16 fighters and modernizing its existing flotilla are dwindling, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed just days ago that Turkey will buy a second batch of the same Russian systems.
Is it just business?
Turkey says it sees no problem in using Russian S-400 air defense systems. According to military analysts, the reason Turkey turned to Russia was the high cost of US Patriot systems. But that system has failed in the last two years in Iraq and Saudi Arabia. They were repeatedly attacked with missiles at targets in the Green Zone of Baghdad, and Patriot was unable to intercept all the missiles. The same thing happened during the rocket and drone attack on the Aramco oil refinery in Saudi Arabia.
The United States claims that it is not compatible for the Russian S-400 air defense system to operate “under one flag” with their fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II fighters, because of link 16. Link 16 is the data and communication NATO and West standard. According to Washington, through the S-400 the Russians will be able to access sensitive data on stealth technology and the avionics of their F-35s.
It is known and proven that the Russian air defense system S-400 manages to intercept stealth aircraft and deal with them more successfully than any other air defense system in the world. Russia is already upgrading its anti-aircraft missile division with this system and has recently begun arming itself with its latest S-500 air defense system, believed to be able to counter hypersonic missiles or strike a satellite in low orbit around the Earth.
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