SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Turkey sought Eurofighters after uncertainty over U.S. F-16 buy

Turkey realized that its request for F-16 jets from the United States might not succeed, so it started talking to other European countries about purchasing 40 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, a source from the Turkish defense ministry said on Thursday.

Germany opposed the notion, but Turkey was in talks to purchase Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft with Britain and Spain, according to Defense Minister Yasar Guler last week.

Guler was holding talks on the issue with his British counterpart Grant Shapps in Ankara on Thursday, the source said. Turkey wants to buy the most advanced, newly built version of the Eurofighter, he added.

NATO member Turkey requested in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters and 79 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.

President Joe Biden’s administration supports the $20-billion sale, but there has been objections in the U.S. Congress over Turkey’s delaying of NATO enlargement and its human rights record.

Turkey has informed NATO that the ratification of Sweden’s membership bid will not be completed by the alliance’s foreign ministers meeting next week, further complicating matters.

“Turkish air forces are in need of new aircraft. Our first choice is F-16s… But considering the possibility that we might not get a positive response in this prolonged process, the Eurofighter Typhoon jets are the most suitable alternatives to F-16s,” the source said.

“The (officials from) the U.K. say that they could help convincing Germany to back down their objections,” he added.

The Eurofighter Typhoon jets are built by a consortium of Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain, represented by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo.

LAST CHANCE

“For regional power balances, Turkey’s need for a new technology fighter jet is no secret,” defence analyst Tayfun Ozberk said.

“In this context, the move to acquire the Eurofighters may have been made to pressure the Biden Administration to persuade the Congress for the sale of F-16s as soon as possible,” he added.

The Eurofighter Typhoons are “really the last chance to keep Turkey in the Western defence industry,” according to Serhat Guvenc, an international relations professor at Kadir Has University.

“Acquiring the Eurofighter could create some operational issues as the Turkish Air Force operates in line with the American system. However, ultimately, the Eurofighter is a joint production of NATO members. Therefore, there shouldn’t be an interoperability problem,” he said.

    Source:
  • Reuters