Sunday December 05, 2021

Talks under way with US to buy F-16s: Turkey

October 18, 2021

ISTANBUL: President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday said Turkey was in talks with the United States to buy F-16 fighters after it was kicked off the F-35 programme for purchasing a Russian missile defence system.

Washington excluded Ankara from Nato’s F-35 stealth fighter jet programme in 2019 after Turkey purchased Russian S-400 defence air systems in defiance of warnings from its Western allies. The acquisition has imperilled Turkish-US relations and blocked Turkey’s plans to purchase about 100 of the F-35 fighters.

Turkey is now seeking compensation for its ouster from the US-led programme, including for a $1.4 billion payment it had made before its removal.

Turkey’s purchase of F-16 jets from America is "of course linked to the F-35s issue", Erdogan told reporters at an Istanbul airport before embarking on an Africa tour.

He said the US had offered Turkey in return to sell F-16s to upgrade its air force fleet. "We have said we’ll take whatever step is needed to meet our country’s defence needs," Erdogan said, adding that Turkey was working to modernise its warplane fleet.