Erdoğan aide confirms Turkey considering F-16 purchase from U.S.
Turkish Presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın on Tuesday said that Turkey is considering purchasing F-16 fighter jets from the United States, confirming a Reuters report on the matter.
Kalın told Milliyet newspaper that Turkey was looking to expand its current F-16 fleet while "modernizing’’ those in its inventory, noting that the matter was in a formative stage.
Reuters on Friday reported that Turkey had requested 40 new Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters jets and almost 80 modernisation kits for its existing fleet of F-16s.
The country is seeking to modernise its air force after being banned from procuring fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters. The United States removed Turkey from jointly developing the F-35s in 2019 over Ankara’s contentious purchase of Russian S-400 air defence missile systems. Turkey had ordered at least 100 of the next generation fighters.
Turkey boasts the third largest F-16 fleet in the world with 270 of the iconic jets, all of them Block 30/40/50 models. The aging Block 30 models in particular are in need of major upgrades to stay airworthy.
Kalın on Tuesday condemned Washington over Turkey’s removal from the F-35 programme.
"It's a completely unlawful and unjust practice. It is a wrong and costly decision, not just Turkey, but also for the F-35 programme,’’ Kalın said. "We hope that they abandon this mistake as soon as possible.’’
On the weekend, Bloomberg reported that Ankara last month sent a formal request to United States for the purchase of the F-35 aircraft and kits from Lockheed Martin Corp., citing two Turkish officials with knowledge on the matter.