‘Russia’ may suspend F-16 Block 70 fighters delivery to Turkey

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Let’s clarify something straightaway: Washington’s endorsement of Ankara’s procurement of 40 F-16 Block 40 fighter jets is not a done deal—yet. It reminds us of the “F-35 saga” years ago when the U.S. stipulated conditions that Turkey needed to abide by for a hassle-free completion of the deal. 

Photography by Thinh D. Nguyen

According to the Turkish publication Aydinlik, the Congressional Research Service had already drawn up a comprehensive report last year. This touched upon the potential supply of F-16s to Turkey and predefined circumstances that could terminate this arrangement. 

One part of the report explicitly stated that if Turkey, at any point in time, “acts against US interests,” the procurement process could be put on hold. The report further clarified, “Approval of the sale will not prevent Congress or the Administration from halting or modifying the sale in response to Turkey’s actions that counteract US interests in the future.” 

Photo credit: Aydinlik

The current military trade and production relationship between Turkey and Russia could potentially trigger Washington to hit the pause button on supplying Block 70. Aydinlik hypothesizes that Turkey might need to halt any new ground operations in Syria, cease excessive Aegean Sea flyovers, sever military ties with Russia, and refrain from shuttering the HDP [Halkların Demokratik Partisi or Peoples’ Democratic Party]. 

The outlined conditions for future F-16 shipments surface as Washington renews its discourse concerning Turkey’s S-400 batteries. In recent weeks, many media outlets highlighted the proposition from various D.C. politicians to provide Ukraine with S-400s purchased from Russia. If this plan materializes, media speculation suggests Turkey might regain their position within Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program for the fifth-generation fighter. 

However, it remains unclear how these stipulations for the potential suspension of F-16 deliveries to Turkey would affect the existing agreement between Russia and Turkey for additional S-400 air defense systems as well as the servicing of equipment already purchased from Russia. 

Photo credit: LinkedIn

Turkey remains steadfast in its stance on the necessity of the S-400s for Turkish national defense, citing “the country’s vast land mass that needs protection from potential future threats”. Yet, history echoes loudly here, mirroring the scenario when Turkey attempted to pressure the US into selling the F-16s with “deals for the Eurofighter, Su-35 or JF-17″, the US responded with their own pressure, threatening suspensions on supplies. 

As a reminder from BulgarianMilitary.com, in late January, the U.S. issued a foreign military notification. This notification serves as a precursor for the proposed sale of F-16 Block 70 fighter jets to Turkey. The upcoming acquisition enlists 40 F-16 Block 70 fighter jets and 79 upgrade kits for the same model, plus associated equipment, all costing approximately $23 billion. Among these, 32 F-16 Block 70s will be single-seat jets, while the remaining eight will feature a dual-seater setup. 

Beyond the purchase of F-16s, the deal also incorporates 48 F-110 turbofan engines, 149 AN/APG-83 AESA SABR radars, 168 Viper integrated electronic warfare kits, 858 LAU-129 guided missile launchers, 44 M61 Vulcan cannons, and 16 AN/AAQ-33 forward-looking Sniper aiming pods. 

Now, let’s explore the weaponry Turkey is set to acquire: 952 AMRAAM AIM-120C-8 Air-to-Air Missiles, 96 AMRAAM Guidance Sections, and 864 GBU-39/B Miniature Bombs among others. Furthermore, Turkey’s purchase order includes a variety of other systems such as 96 AGM-88B HARM Anti-Radiation and AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Missiles [AARGM], an extra 401 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. 

The sale also comprises comprehensive upgrade kits and a Service Life Extension Program [SLEP] specifically designed for the modification of existing Turkish F-16 Block 40 and Block 50+ aircraft. This ensures the inclusion of necessary equipment within the deal to extend the service life of these jets.

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