Turkish Air Force F-16 Fighter Jets
Turkish Air Force F-16 Fighter Jets

President Biden Asks Congress to Approve New F-16 Fighter Deal with Turkey

According to a report by U.S. daily Wall Street Journal President Biden administration has asked Congress to approve the new sale of F-16 fighter jets. Turkey’s role in the Ukraine conflict and its supplying drones to Ukraine has helped repair frayed ties with Washington and could set the stage for the sale of F-16 fighter jets. A deal would include the sale of newly built 40 F-16 fighter jets and the modernization of some 80 F-16s. U.S. and Turkish officials are advocating for the F-16 deal, arguing that it could help repair the American-Turkish defense relationship, which frayed after Ankara chose to buy a Russian air-defense system in 2017.

The Pentagon ousted Turkey from the program to buy and help build Lockheed Martin Corp.’s more advanced F-35 fighter jet in July 2019, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government purchased the Russian-made S-400 missile system. On December 14, 2020, the US imposed CAATSA sanctions on Turkey. As of 2020, 4 batteries consisting of 36 fire units, and 192+ missiles were delivered to Turkey. The Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) is a United States federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. Turkey has tested the S-400 air defence system against drones and F-16 fighter jets at low altitudes.

The administration is expected to send a separate request to Congress involving the sale of a new fleet of F-16s along with upgrades for Turkey’s existing aircraft later this year. An approximately $6-billion deal would include the sale of 40 newly built F-16V fighter jets and modernization kits for 80 F-16 C/D models that the Turkish Air Forces has in its inventory. The sale of AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, AIM-120 Amraam missiles, along with radar and other equipment would cost Turkey more than $400 million. The administration made the request through an informal notification to key leaders in both houses of Congress.

The Turkish Air Force has a total of 270 F-16C/D aircraft in its inventory, all of them Block 30/40/50 models. The Turkish Air Force acquired its first F-16s in 1987. Turkey is one of five countries to locally produce F-16s. As a part of Turkish F-16 modernization program new air to air missiles are being developed and tested for the aircraft. GÖKTU? program led by TUBITAK SAGE has presented two types of air to air missiles named as Bozdogan (Merlin) and Gokdogan (Peregrine). While Bozdogan has been categorized as a Within Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (WVRAAM), Gokdogan is a Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air-Missile (BVRAAM).