ANKARA ($1=18.57 Turkish Liras) — After being upgraded by Northrup Grumman, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons are equipped with new AN/APG-83 SABR radars. SABR is a multi-function active electronically scanned array [AESA] radar. According to open sources, the Pentagon has integrated this radar into 608 F-16C/D Block 40/42 and F-16C/D 50/52 fighters of the US Air Force.
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On November 10th, it became clear that 205 F-16 Fighting Falcons will also receive an upgrade with a new radar system. However, this system is foreign made. It is about the Turkish Air Force and their F-16s. BulgarianMilitary.com announced this at the beginning of March. The Turkish company Aselsan is working on a prototype AESA for F-16. Just two days ago, Ismail Demir, President of the Turkish Defense Industry presented the ready-made Aselsan AESA radar.
Turkey faces a lot of resistance from the US regarding the modernization and purchase of weapons systems. The S-400 air defense system, which is Russian and was acquired by Turkey two years ago, forced Washington to impose economic defense sanctions under the CAATSA law. This forced the Turkish defense industry to rely solely on its own potential since American weapons would not receive upgrades, and the US stopped the supply of weapons to Turkey.
However, Turkey manages to overcome “this embargo” precisely through its potential. In addition to the new Aselsan AESA radar, the Turks have developed and integrated into their F-16s a new indigenous onboard computer. As Washington also refuses to re-arm the Turkish F-16s, the Merlin [Bozdoğan] Within Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile [WVRAAM] and Peregrine [Gökdoğan] Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile [BVRAAM] have come to the fore. . They will have to replace the AIM-9 AIM-9X Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM, air-to-air missiles.
Turkey is trying to put “sharper teeth” on its air fleet. The Aselsan AESA radar will not only be a part of Turkish fighters, but some of the key weapons projects of the Turkish defense will also receive it. Such are the attack drone Akinci, as well as the currently developed national combat aircraft TF-X.
Ismail Demir called the new radar “equivalent to the most advanced radars in the world at the moment”. Aselsan AESA is a cornerstone in the program to improve the efficiency and combat capability of Turkish aviation. F-16s in their single and two-seater versions are Turkey’s front-line combat aircraft.
Turkey lags behind Greece
Turkey needs combat-capable fighter jets against the backdrop of the growing combat capability of the Greek air force. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Greek air force is currently superior to the Turkish air force, and this worries Ankara. The Greeks, for example, acquired new French Rafael fighters with one of the most advanced AESA radars in the world – RBE2. This radar is designed for the early detection of multiple long-range targets.
Greece is expected to receive approval from the US to acquire F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter jets. This will further ensure Greek air superiority in the region. Military editor and analyst Ozay Sendir admitted that Greece is gaining a significant advantage with its new fighter jets. This he did in an interview with CNN Turk.
Turkey hopes the war in Ukraine will open an “until now hidden door”. Washington perceives Moscow as one of the two main enemies of the Americans [the other being Beijing]. For this reason, and perhaps seeing that the Turkish defense industry may begin to ignore American weapons, Turkey is expected to receive new fighter jets from the United States.
Whether this will happen will be clear within two months, says Mr. Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for the President of Turkey, Mr. Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey has asked the US to acquire 40 new F-16 fighter jets and upgrade 80 of Turkey’s inventory. “When this happens [the approval – ed.] the F-16 problem, both the modernization and the purchase of new F-16s, will be resolved,” Kalin says.
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