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Turkey pressuring US for F-16 fighter jets after cancellation of F-35 plan


Press/ Asia: Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on October 17 that Ankara is looking to buy cheaper F-35s using the $1.4 billion allocated for the canceled F-16 deal.

But a US official said any possible orders for the F-16 could be linked to the same issue that forced the cancellation of the F-35: Turkey’s decision to buy the system from Russia.

The S-400, which is used to track and shoot down attack aircraft, was seen as a threat to the F-35 joint strike fighter program adopted in several countries.

US officials met with Turkish counterparts in Ankara on Wednesday to resolve remaining issues from the F-35 program, and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday in a statement with Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar that the recognized “Turkey’s military modernization needs”.

The F-16 request could be discussed when US President meets with Erdogan on the sidelines of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow starting Sunday.

According to Turkish media, the country is looking to buy 40 F-16s and kits to upgrade 80 warplanes in its existing fleet.

In 2002 Turkey joined several other NATO allies that agreed to purchase the F-35, and five years later reached an agreement to participate in its production, a deal potentially worth billions of dollars for Turkish industry.

But just as the United States was preparing to deliver the first two of the planned 100 aircraft to the Turkish Air Force, in 2017 Ankara announced it was buying S-400 batteries.

In July 2019, a week after Turkey’s Defense Ministry received the first delivery of S-400 components, Washington announced the cancellation of Turkey’s F-35 program.

US officials said the presence of the S-400 would allow the Russians – NATO’s primary adversaries – to gather information about the aircraft’s critical stealth capabilities.

“Turkey cannot keep a Russian intelligence-collection platform near where the F-35 program builds, repairs and maintains the F-35,” Alain Lord, the Pentagon’s Under-Secretary for Acquisition, said at the time.

Five months later, Washington imposed sanctions on the Presidency of Turkey’s defense industry, which is in charge of defense technology , for violating on Russia.

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Source link:iranpress

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