Government of Türkiye by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has written the latest chapter of a soap opera featuring the fifth generation F-35 fighter. In the middle of the presidential election campaign, the Foreign Minister, Nevlut CavusogluTurkey made harsh accusations against the United States for what it perceived as Ankara’s responsibilities in statements to CNN dirty game From Washington: “We want our money now, We want to get back what we have paid. Our friends from the Ministry met and reviewed the steps that we will take from now on.” A veiled threat by the Turkish minister in reference to the $1.4 billion that his country offered the United States to be part of. Programa Internationale F-35 Joint Strike Fighter,
Everything went wrong in 2019 when Ankara inducted the S-400 air defense system bought from Russia. The United States then expelled Turkey from the F-35 project, viewing it as incompatible with supplying sensitive technology such as the fifth-generation aircraft, which would provide the Russian military industry with a system designed to defend itself. Handing over with acquisition. To shoot down fighter jets with precision. F-35. Turkey argued at the time that it was capable of operating both systems without jeopardizing the F-35’s secrets. But America did not budge from its stand. The sanctions imposed on his partner were experienced as a national crime in Turkey and were remembered America did not punish India, which also got S-400 system from Russia.
The US suggested that Ankara not be included in the F-35 program until it got rid of its Russian defensive systems. In fact, at the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Washington asked Ankara to do just that. to send S-400s to Kiev, but Erdogan declined the offer, which was interpreted as Turkey’s final slam for the F-35 program.
Ankara has not only given up hope that the United States will reinstate it in the US program of the fifth-generation multirole fighter. Lockheed MartinRather requests a refund of $1,400 million already paid for the aircraft and in parallel designs It has its own national fighter aircraft industry, At the moment, its own TF-X KAAN fighter is at an advanced stage of development, which, according to Turkish industry, is capable of competing with the F-35. Another source of Turkish national pride is the Harjet, a fighter that could partially replace the American F-16. The two aircraft are of national manufacture, with which Ankara hopes to gain autonomy in the fighter aircraft sector.
President of Defense Industry, Ismail Demir, Recently pointed in the same direction when talking about the F-35 crisis with the US. “I will not agree to buy the F-35, even if the Americans beg us. KAAN may be better than the F-35Some observers have highlighted that Turkey, one of the oldest partners in the F-35 program, should have been one of the first countries to have the advanced F-35 fighter in its air force. Lockheed Martin. But the alliance with Russia –His great rival on the battlefield for the last two centuries– has kicked him out of the ambitious program. Even ex-Soviet countries such as Romania have fully invested in the American fighter aviation model.
However, the second round of Turkish elections, with a pro-Western opponent facing off against Erdogan, reopens the door for Turkey to re-enter the F-35 program, unless Kemal KilikdarogluThe Republican People’s Party candidate is able to win and negotiate a new deal with the US.
To compensate Turkey for the exclusion of the F-35 program, the United States offered Ankara the sale of 40 in 2021 F-16 jets older than the F-35, a type of fighter aircraft that Turkey has already inducted and which forms the backbone of its war fleet. However, the US Congress has not yet given the go-ahead to transfer these aircraft to the Turkish partner. For some Turkish observers, the F-16s remain a much bigger problem than the F-35s. The Turkish Air Force needed to modernize the existing fleet of F-16s but the US opposed the transfer of modernization kits, Which threatened to render the Turkish fleet obsolete.
Finally, the US State Department has approved a $259 million deal to upgrade Turkey’s F-16 fighter jets, an approval that came After Ankara approved Finland’s entry into NATO, According to The Defense Post, the Turkish Armed Forces have 43 F-16 Block 30C and D models, 117 Block 40 units and 110 Block 50 fighters.