“Technical work” has started on Turkey’s purchase of US-made Block 70 Viper F-16s, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said. Washington has yet to confirm the agreement, as it was announced at first by Turkish President.
Akar’s remark came after a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels. Akar stated that the Turkish warplanes would be purchased and modernized. “also means the strengthening of NATO defense.”
Turkish President Tayyip Turkey announced the deal at first. On his return flight from an African tour on Sunday, he told journalists the US had offered it as compensation for Turkey’s investment in the F-35 program, which it was pushed out of under the Trump administration in retaliation for its decision to purchase Russian S-400 long-range air defense systems.
“There is the payment of $1.4 billion we have made for the F-35s and the US had such a proposal in return for these payments,” Erdogan said.
“We are working to further develop our fleet from the modernization of the F-16s in our possession to new additional F-16 purchases,”He added.
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Washington would not immediately comment on Erdogan’s remarks. Ned Price, spokesperson for the US State Department said that “the Department of Defense continues to be engaged in a dispute resolution mechanism with Turkey on the F-35 but I’m not going to prejudge the outcome.”
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian systems went through despite vocal objections from the US, which alleged that the hardware would give Moscow an opportunity to study the characteristics of F-35 fighter jets and thus compromise all nations operating them. Ankara wanted to purchase 100 F-35s.
US sanctions also came from the Russian deal, which led to US sanctions on Turkish firms involved in its sealing. Turkey’s military procurement body, the Defence Industry Directorate, its chief, Ismail Demir, and three other employees ended up on Washington’s blacklist.
Ankara stated that it was considering purchasing more Russian anti-aircraft missile system and possibly other military equipment.
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