With 245 F-16 fighter jets in the fleet, the Turkish Air Force is the third largest user of the Fighting Falcon on the planet after the United States and Israel, and as such represent an essential component of the defensive system of the United States. NATO on the Alliance's southern flank. However, some of these devices are beginning to show the weight of the years, and even if the majority of the fleet has been upgraded to the Block 50+ standard, it is now slowing down in the face of the arrival of new, more efficient devices, such as Russian Su-35 and Su-57, but also, and above all, against the Greek Rafale and F-16 Block 70/72 being delivered. At the same time, Turkey was ousted from the F-35 program, of which it had ordered 100 copies, after having ordered and put into service two batteries of S-400 anti-aircraft systems of Russian invoice.
To modernize its fleet, Ankara announced, in 2019, a vast program piloted by the local specialist in on-board electronic systems Aselsan, aimed in particular at equipping the Turkish F-16s with modernized avionics, an AESA radar and a defense and electronic warfare suite, to “upgrade” them to the Greek Block 70 Vipers from 2021. Therefore, the request sent by the Turkish authorities to the American Foreign Military Sales or FMS, relating to the acquittals of 40 new F-16s and 80 kits to bring devices up to this standard, may appear surprising, and all the more so as President RT Erdogan declared, just a few days ago after a meeting with Vladimir Putin in Sochi, that the two countries would cooperate in the field of submarines, aircraft engines and missiles, and to add that Turkey would order a second batch of S-400, and that no one, including the United States, had a say in it.
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