Reason why suddenly Turkey decided to buy F-16 fighter aircrafts from US

Turkey asked the US to sell 40 F-16 fighter jets and 80 spare parts to modernize existing fighters, after the F-35 deal failed. Experts say that Ankara can take advantage of the $ 1.4 billion deposited of the F-35 for new deal.

Sources on October 7 said the deal to sell F-16 fighter jets and parts worth billions of dollars to Turkey is being reviewed by the State Department and the US Congress. These two agencies can block US arms sales to other countries. The US State Department and the Turkish embassy in Washington declined to comment on this matter. Media reported that Ankara has asked Washington to sell 40 new F-16 fighter jets and 80 spare parts for the modernization of existing F-16 fighters.

Turkey has ordered more than 100 F-35 fighters made by Lockheed Martin but was removed from the program in 2019 after buying the Russian-made S-400 air defense complex. In December 2020 US imposed sanctions against the General Directorate of Defense Industry of Turkey and Ismail Demir, its leader, and three other employees.

Relations between Turkey and the United States have been tumultuous over the past five years, revolving around disagreements over the situation in Syria, closer ties between Ankara and Moscow, and Turkey’s naval ambitions in the Mediterranean.

Some US congressmen have also had a negative attitude towards Turkey over the years, mainly related to the S-400 deal and human rights issues, making the purchase of 40 F-16 fighters may be affected.

The US has repeatedly warned Turkey not to buy more weapons from Russia. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that the country intends to buy a second batch of S-400s, a move that could further fracture relations with the United States.

Bipartisanship in the US Congress supports pushing the administration of US President Joe Biden to put more pressure on Turkey, related to the purchase of Russian weapons and human rights issues.

Turkish Air Force  F-16 fighter aircraft
Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft

Meanwhile, Turkey expressed hope to build better relations with the US under President Joe Biden. At a press conference on September 30, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped to meet his US counterpart Joe Biden to discuss the $1.4 billion payment that Turkey made before being banned and removed from the F-35 program.

“We paid $1.4 billion and what will it be? We don’t make money easily. They have to deliver the plane or give us back the money,” Erdogan said during the meeting.

The US excluded Turkey from the F-35 program, and also cut Ankara’s participation in the supply chain of components for this advanced 5th generation fighter.

Experts say that, after slipping out of the F-35 deal, Turkey will turn to buy the latest version of the F-16V and components to upgrade the existing F-16s, hoping to take advantage of received the $1.4 billion they had deposited for the F-35. F-16 Block 70/72, also known as F-16V Viper. This is the most powerful version today of the American family of light fighter F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The difference in the design of this version can be easily seen when they are equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks along the fuselage. Normally, the F-16 Block 70/72 only carries two barrels along the sides of the fuselage, but when necessary, they can carry an additional barrel along the back of the aircraft. Equipping these extra fuel tanks makes the appearance of the F-16 Block 70/72 fighter somewhat different from the angles, but it helps these fighters to be able to fight in the range. large position (this was the weakness of previous F-16 versions).

The combat radius of previous versions of the F-16 was only about 550 km, now with extra fuel tanks, they can double the combat radius. Even when equipped with 3 extra drop tanks, the distance can be 2.2 times as much as before. the F-16 Block 70/72 can quickly remove the auxiliary fuel tank along the fuselage, or remove both tanks on the side of the aircraft, at which point they will achieve high climbing speed, as well as extreme speed.

The special thing that makes the power of the F-16 Block 70/72 version is the comprehensive and extensive upgraded avionics system. The cockpit is completely new designed with many screens displaying flight parameters to make it more convenient for pilots in combat.

In particular, this version uses the advanced active electronically scanned array radar Northrop Grumman AN/APG-80 to help increase the ability to detect and control fire to destroy the enemy, it is known that this radar is developed based on the technology. technology taken from the F-22 and F-35.

In addition, the pilot is also equipped with the latest JHMCS II helmet, which allows them to shoot down the target just by turning their head to look at the target and press the button to fire the missile no matter where the aircraft is flying.

In terms of armament, although the F-16 Block 70/72 has one engine, they can carry up to 7.9 tons of weapons while the Su-35S, although equipped with two engines, is larger but has only the ability to carry 8 tons of weapons. Despite its terrifying power, the operating cost of this fighter is $20,000 per flight hour, which is nearly half lower than the Russian Su-30/35.

The fuselage life of this latest version amounts to approximately 9,000 flight hours. That is 3 times more than Russian fighters. Having a long life of the body frame will make it easier to overhaul and upgrade later.

If 40 F-16 Block 70/72 can be purchased, adding to the fleet more than 100 F-16 Block 50/52, the Turkish Air Force’s combat capacity will increase significantly.

Currently, the F-16 is the most successful US fighter jet line with about 5,000 aircraft with variants being produced and present in 24 countries. Currently, the US is continuing to produce this aircraft to sell to its allies.

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