The United States offered F-16 fighters to Turkey to compensate for its $1.4 billion investment in the U.S.-led F-35 Lightning II project from which it was kicked out of over its Russian S-400 buy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday.
Erdoogan’s statements confirm earlier reports that claimed Turkey would acquire 40 new F-16V Block 70 aircraft and nearly 80 kits to modernize its F-16 fighters. He stressed that this purchase cannot be separated from the “F-35 issue.” He added that Turkey needs to receive back its payments since it cannot receive the F-35 jets, more than 100 of which it had planned to buy.
“The U.S. had such a proposal for the payments,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by local media.
Turkey’s current fleet of more than 200 F-16 jets will be phased out by 2035. Nearly 100 aircraft in the fleet await upgrades.
“Turkey’s approach regarding the (F-35) issue is to meet its defense needs with necessary steps. In particular, we are trying to make our fighter jet fleet ready,” he stated.
Erdogan is expected to hold a meeting regarding the purchase with U.S. President Joe Biden at the upcoming global G-20 summit. There has been no official announcement or meeting scheduled as of yet.
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