Presidency of the Presidency SözcüIt came from İbrahim Kalın. Regarding the removal of the USA from the F-35 program, İbrahim Kalın said, “For the money we paid, the expansion of our existing F-16 fleet and the modernization of our existing F-16s can be considered as an alternative. The issue is just taking shape. After seeing the conditions, a final decision is made within the framework of our needs.” made a statement.
Regarding the demand for F-16 Block 70 fighter jets and kits for modernization from the USA, Kalın said, “Buying new aircraft and modernizing our existing F-16s can be considered as an alternative to expand our existing F-16 fleet in return for the money we paid. The issue is just taking shape. After seeing the terms, a final decision is made within the framework of our needs. Of course, the F-35 is an important technology and our first choice is to buy the F-35s we deserve. However, we will not give up the project to strengthen our fighter jet fleet because of the sanctions. If this crisis with the USA is overcome, Turkey will enter the program again, we will get our F-35s there; If it is not resolved and the problem remains like this for a while, we will continue our search for alternatives.” made statements.
Turkey's Request for 40 F-16 Block 70 from the USA
According to the news on Reuters and defencereview.gr site, based on anonymous sources, it was claimed that Turkey sent 40 F-16 Block 70 and 80 aircraft in HvKK to the USA a request letter for an upgrade to Block 70 level (LOR).
The value of the demand is zero number of aircraft, number of modernization kits, spare parts, maintenance equipment, potential weapon systems etc. Considering things, it will amount to several billion dollars. The submitted request letter will be submitted to Congress after it has passed through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channel.
Considering Turkey-US relations, which continue to be strained by the S-400 and embargoes, the demand will likely not pass Congress even if it passes the FMS. Regarding the issue, President Erdogan, in an interview with CBS, stated that there is no guarantee that the USA will continue to support the F-16s, and that this may force (Turkey) to choose different elections.
In another claim based on 2 anonymous Turkish officials, one of the officials stated that a request was sent for Block 70 and modernization. The other stated that behind the request was the idea that there was a possibility that it would be accepted by the USA in order to preserve the “balance of power” between Turkey and Greece and to prevent the purchase of more weapons from Russia.
As it is known, Greece had recently started to upgrade its Block 50/52 standard F-16s to Block 70 standard as part of its armament program, and the first modernized aircraft made its first flight in January 2021.
Another reason for the request may be to provide a concrete reason for the transition to alternative options in the fighter jet interim solution, with the USA's refusal due to strained relations. Therefore, it would be best to wait for the response from the US and Turkey's reaction to it, so that the reason becomes clear. – DefenseTurk