Turkey's Struggle for F-16s and Eurofighter Jets: A Tale of NATO Alliances and Defense Deals

Türkiye has expressed its expectation of prompt and tangible steps from the United States on the F-16 fighter jet deal, while also urging Germany to show a stance aligning with the NATO spirit regarding its request to buy Eurofighter Typhoon warplanes. Ankara has been frustrated by the prolonged process of its request to acquire F-16 jets from the U.S., which it seeks to refresh its air force. 


This prompted it to begin discussing buying Eurofighters, produced by a consortium involving Germany, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Türkiye announced last month it was in talks with Britain and Spain to buy 40 Eurofighter jets, though Germany has objected to the idea. 


National Defense Minister Yaşar Güler said “technical meetings” regarding the procurement of F-16 has been completed, stressing that Türkiye expects “positive and solid steps” from the U.S. “We expect the process to start with positive and concrete steps as soon as possible,” Güler told journalists in the Turkish capital of Ankara at a year-end evaluation meeting. 

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Türkiye’s request aims to replace the aging F-16 fleet in the inventory of the Air Forces Command, which is planned to be phased out starting in the 2030s. The project was launched in 2016. Türkiye sought to purchase Lockheed Martin’s more advanced F-35 fighter jets, but the U.S. removed it from the multinational program to buy and help build the warplane in 2019 after it acquired S-400 air missile defense systems from Russia. Güler said that the most important issue in the procurement process is sanctions and that Ankara has repeatedly criticized Germany for not approving its request to acquire the jets. He said they expect a German response aligning with the “spirit of (NATO) alliance.” Türkiye’s interest in military jets is not limited to Eurofighter. The country has already given their answer clearly, and if they give them these planes, they will give them. Güler said the realization of national defense industry projects “symbolizes the power of Türkiye.” It was reported last week that Türkiye may acquire the Chinese-Pakistani co-developed JF-17 Thunder if Germany keeps opposing the sale of the Eurofighter Typhoon to Türkiye.

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