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Erdogan says US, not Turkey, proposed F-16 sale

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mentioned yesterday that america had supplied to promote dozens of F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to Ankara as compensation for Turkey’s expensive expulsion from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Reuters beforehand reported that Turkey had formally submitted a request to america to purchase 40 F-16s and dozens of extra modernization kits for Ankara’s current fleet, following a report in a Greek newspaper.

The US eliminated Turkey from an inventory of Western-allied nations allowed to buy the fifth-generation F-35 plane after Ankara purchased Russia’s S-400 missile protection system in 2017.

American officers over two US administrations have insisted the S-400 poses a menace to the F-35. Turkey acquired its first S-400 unit in 2019 and later reportedly examined its monitoring system on F-16s.

Ankara paid $1.4 billion towards an preliminary order of as much as 100 F-35 jets. A number of of the jets had already been in production by the point of Turkey’s ejection from this system. Final yr, the US Air Drive bought eight of these accomplished F-35s, however Turkey’s authorities has but to be reimbursed.

Erdogan advised reporters on Wednesday that Washington proposed the brand new F-16 sale as a means for Ankara to recoup its misplaced funding.

“There may be the fee of $1.4 billion we now have made for the F-35s and the US had such a proposal in return for these funds,” Erdogan advised reporters earlier than heading on an official go to to West Africa on Sunday, based on Reuters.

“We mentioned, let’s take no matter steps are wanted to be taken to satisfy the protection wants of our nation,” the Turkish president mentioned.

Turkey’s fleet of F-16s is growing older, with practically 100 of the jets requiring upgrades to increase their lifespan. With out the F-35, the F-16 is slated to stay the first fighter jet in Turkey’s air pressure till Turkey’s personal indigenous stealth fighter, the TF-X, can progress additional into growth.

The F-16 sale proposal may show to be a serious olive department at a low level in US-Turkey relations. An unprecedented rift between the 2 NATO allies triggered by the S-400 buy has opened solely wider in recent times, as Turkey scorns US support for Kurdish fighters in Syria amid the combat in opposition to the Islamic State.

Erdogan is about to satisfy with US President Joe Biden in Rome later this month, marking the second assembly because the latter took workplace in January.

Earlier this month the Turkish president met along with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. After the closed-door assembly, Erdogan boasted that his authorities can be trying into an array of potential joint protection initiatives with Russia.

Erdogan’s feedback have been an obvious snub to the Biden administration, which has threatened to impose additional sanctions on Turkey ought to it buy extra Russian navy {hardware}.

The Trump administration positioned restricted sanctions on Turkey’s essential state-run protection procurement physique final yr after Ankara test-fired the S-400.

The US can select to exempt the Turkish Presidency of Protection Industries for sure arms transfers, however Erdogan’s popularity in Congress stays at a nadir.

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