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Turkey’s F-16 Deal with Washington Hangs in the Balance Over Ukraine Transfer Demand, Report Says

Washington is considering granting approval for the transfer of F-16 upgrade kits and the sale of 40 new F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, conditional on Turkey agreeing to transfer its existing fleet of older F-16s to Ukraine, broadcaster Haberturk has reported.

The Turkish Air Force currently operates F-16 Block-30 aircraft, which are not slated for modernization and are expected to be retired in the coming years. Nonetheless, the Turkish government asserts that the issue of fighter aircraft is not subject to negotiation but rather a rightful entitlement as a member country of NATO. They emphasize that Ankara has already been excluded from the F-35 co-production program, and the potential exclusion from the F-16 program could lead Turkey to explore alternative options.

However, military analysts dismiss the likelihood of Turkey ceeding its fighter jets to Ukraine, as such an action could strain the positive relations between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.

In a related development, Turkish Airlines recently announced its intention to decide on the purchase of 600 passenger aircraft within the next two months and initiate negotiations with Boeing and Airbus. Analysts suggest that this procurement may serve as a bargaining tool for Ankara to secure Congressional approval for the modernization of F-16 fighter jets.

The F-16s issue was reportedly discussed during a telephone conversation between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Turkey’s new Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Thursday.

According to the official statement from the State Department, Blinken emphasized the significance of Sweden promptly joining NATO and reiterated the importance of the Turkish-sponsored Black Sea grain initiative.

source : Ekathimerini