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F-16 fighter jet fleet: US backs Erdogan’s plans with US planes

Turkey requests fighter jets
US supports Erdogan’s F-16 plans

Turkey has long requested the US for F-16 fighter jets. In Washington, however, the deal was controversial. But now the virtue signals are coming from Washington. Not long ago, Ankara dropped its ban on Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

The US government supports President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plan to modernize Turkey’s F-16 fighter jets. Such a move “would be a contribution to the security of NATO and thereby to the security of the United States,” Celeste Wallander, secretary of state for international security affairs at the US Department of Defense, said on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Madrid. . “Therefore, the US Department of Defense fully supports Turkey’s plans to modernize its F-16 fleet. These plans are underway.”

Erdogan has previously accused the US of “delaying tactics”. The modernization of the US-made F-16 fleet is currently the most important topic being discussed between Ankara and Washington, he said in Ankara on Tuesday before heading to a NATO summit. On Tuesday evening, Erdogan abandoned a blockade to allow Finland and Sweden into NATO, drawing the ire of Turkey’s US and other allies. After the deal, Turkey was officially said to have been accommodated in arms exports and the fight against terrorism.

There have been discussions for a long time about the sale of American fighter jets to Turkey: in fact, the NATO country was part of the plan to develop the American fighter jet F-35, and should buy it. However, the US government excluded Turkey from the F-35 program after the government in Ankara bought the Russian S-400 missile defense system in 2017. There were fears in Washington that Russia could use the sensitive radar of the S-400 weapons system to obtain data on the F-35’s stealth capabilities.

Late last year, Erdogan announced that the US had delivered F-16 jets to Turkey to replace the F-35. According to the Turkish Defense Ministry, Ankara has requested 40 new F-16s and 79 upgrade kits for F-16 jets already in service. In Washington, however, the potential deal has so far been politically contentious.

(This article was originally published on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.)

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