The US administration gives the green light to upgrade the minimum number of Turkish F-16 fighters

The US administration gives the green light to upgrade the minimum number of Turkish F-16 fighters

After being excluded from the F-35 program by the Trump administration for its purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems, Turkey is now hoping the United States will agree to deliver 40 new F-16 Block 70 “Viper” fighter-bombers as well. sets to bring 80 of its previous aircraft of this type to this standard.

Only, this file, which was opened in October 2021, has not yet been settled, while Joe Biden, the current tenant of the White House, wants to please Ankara.

In January, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US administration intends to ask Congress to hand over 40 F-16 Vipers, 79 modernization kits for existing aircraft, 900 air-to-air missiles and 800 bombs to Turkey. But this request was ultimately not published, as many influential senators hinted that they would oppose it. At least as long as Türkiye prevents Sweden and Finland from joining NATO.

Once Turkey ratifies NATO membership protocols, Congress will be able to consider selling F-16 fighter jets. However, failure in this regard would call this continued sale into question,” 29 Republican and Democratic senators argued in a letter to Mr. Biden last February.

Since then, Finland has become the 31st member of NATO … while Sweden is still waiting for the go-ahead from the Turkish and Hungarian parliaments to formalize its membership in the alliance.

Be that as it may, and for the time being, Turkey will have to be content with minimal modernization of some of its F-16s. At least if Congress approves the request just made by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency [DSCA]responsible for US military equipment exports via the FMS procedure [Foreign Military Sales].

In fact, on April 17, it published an advisory regarding limited upgrades to Turkey’s F-16s. Upgrades including avionics, software and automatic ground collision avoidance system [AGCAS] and multifunctional information distribution system [MIDS BU II]. The amount of this potential contract is estimated at $259 million.

This potential sale will “support the foreign policy and national security goals of the United States by helping to improve Turkey’s interoperability within NATO and ensuring the flight safety of F-16s” for the Turkish Air Force, laconically justifying the DSCA. He adds that it would “improve Turkey’s ability to deal with current and future threats” while allowing it “to defend its territory and the American personnel stationed there.”

As a reminder, the F-16V requires more significant improvements because it is equipped with Link 16, an active antenna radar. [AESA] APG-83 SABR, Advanced Mission Computer, Center Pedestal Display [affichage de suivi de terrain] and improve communication.

However, last week the Turkish Ministry of Defense Gave the go-ahead for the ÖZGÜR program, which plans to modernize the F-16 40/50 block by providing them with MURAD AESA active-air radar as well as a new indigenously designed mission computer. The goal is to give them enough potential to hold them until 2050.

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