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Turkiye may buy Euro fighter jets if US does not provide F-16s, report says

June 21, 2022 at 6:51 pm

Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft is seen during test flight in Balikesir, Turkiye on May 22, 2022 [Ali Atmaca/Anadolu Agency]

Turkiye is considering the purchase of Euro fighter Typhoon fighter jets in the case that its request to buy F-16 jets from the US is refused or delayed, a report has revealed.

According to anonymous sources close to the Turkish government and its considerations, who were cited by the London-based news outlet, Middle East Eye, the Euro fighter Typhoons “could be a stop-gap option until we get the fifth generation and locally produced TF-X [Turkish fighter jet] in our hands”. That option would be “of course, if we cannot get the F-16s.”

The revelation comes a few years after the US government, under the administration of former president Donald Trump removed Turkiye from their joint F-35 fighter jet programme, due to the two governments’ dispute over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.

Late last year, however, the Turkish government made a request to Washington for the purchase of 40 F-16 jets and 80 modernisation kits after the US government reportedly encouraged it to do so. Despite the current administration of President Joe Biden and elements within Congress being largely sceptical of Turkiye, it was said that such a request could likely be passed and approved.

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With that process still in the pipeline and with no apparent progress having been announced, Ankara seems to be broadening out its options, meanwhile.

Last month, Turkish Air Force Commander General, Hasan Kucukakyuz, the United Kingdom – the main producer of the Euro fighter jet – met Royal Air Force (RAF) Commander, Marshal Sir Mike Wingston. During that visit, Kucukakyuz observed the Typhoon jet and inspected the UK Quick Reaction Alert that flies with it, reportedly leaving with positive reviews.

As one source familiar with the Turkish government’s considerations told the paper, “The Typhoons are very good, in excellent quality”. Britain has also reportedly long been trying to sell the jets to Turkiye in the past, as has Italy. Now, with the US’s F-16 delay, it may finally be a possibility.

If a deal is struck for the purchase, it would first require approval from Germany, Spain and Italy – the other states in the Euro fighter consortium. While Spain, Italy, and UK are likely to approve of the sale, there is doubt on whether Germany would approve as it still blocks exports of key materials to Turkiye’s domestic arms industry.

Last year, Ankara similarly warned that it would buy Russian fighter jets if Washington does not approve the sale of the F-16s. With Moscow’s recent and ongoing invasion of Ukraine, however, it has likely pulled back on that option to refrain from aggravating ties with the US further.

READ: US says fighter jet sale to Turkiye bolster NATO, boost national interests