What will Turkey gain from the F-16 deal with the United States?

20 days ago


As Turkey’s long saga to purchase F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits is nearing completion, experts say Turkey's defense establishment will make additional gains from the deal.

Turkey - Figure 1
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Argentina's Minister of Defence Luis Petri (R) arrives in a Danish F-16 aircraft at Skrydstrup Airport, Denmark, prior his meeting with Denmark's Minister of Defence on April 16, 2024. - BO AMSTRUP/Ritzau Scanpix/AFP via Getty Images

June 23, 2024

Turkey has many good reasons to seek the Lockheed Martin F-16 “Fighting Falcon” multirole jet fighter from the United States, even as it explores backup options in case it cannot acquire the aircraft on a sensible timeline.

The US State Department announced June 6 that Turkey signed the draft letter for the estimated $23 billion purchase of the most advanced version of the F-16s, the Block 70, also known as “Viper.” Turkey will acquire 40 new F-16 Block 70 Vipers and roughly 80 modernization kits to upgrade its aging aircraft to Viper levels.

Turkey - Figure 2
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The deal comes after monthslong negotiations between Ankara and Washington following Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO membership in January, and it is expected to include additional items such as air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground ordnance, sensors and targeting pods.

Following Turkey’s expulsion from the program that manufactures the fifth-generation stealth F-35 aircraft in 2020 — for which several Turkish firms were also producing parts — over its purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, it might appear strange, even imprudent, for Ankara to trust Washington on such a critical defense matter ever again. But defense industry experts who spoke to Al-Monitor point out that, while Turkey should indeed approach the deal with caution, a close look at the political-strategic calculus of the purchase, as well as some of the finer technical matters, sheds light on several benefits for both Turkey and the United States. 

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