US Congress may authorize the export of new F-16 Block 70 Vipers to Turkey

In October 2021, the Turkish authorities had officially submitted a request to the Foreign Military Sales, or FMS, the American organization in charge of arms export files to the allies of the United States, for acquire 40 new F-16 Block 70 Viper and 80 kits making it possible to bring its own aircraft to this much more advanced and efficient standard than the F-16 C/D Block 52 currently in service with the Turkish Air Force. Yes President Biden promised to do what he could to see through this request, US Congress, which tightly controls US arms exports, opposed it, against the background of the crisis concerning the acquisition of Russian S-400 systems by Ankara, and the provocative maneuvers of the Turkish Navy in the Eastern Mediterranean and around Cyprus.

The war in Ukraine, and the support provided by Ankara to Kyiv, particularly through the TB2 Bayraktar drones that have become iconic of the Ukrainian resistance, but also the efforts of the Turkish authorities to try to influence the radical posture of Vladimir Putin and conduct Russian-Ukrainian negotiations, have visibly softened the determination of American parliamentarians, especially since the country has blocked the straits giving access to the Black Sea in application of the Montreux Convention, and since it played a key role in the release of former Marine Trevor Reed by Moscow. In effect, according to the American site Defensenews.com, the US Congress could lift its veto on this $6 billion transaction, thus allowing Ankara to modernize its air force. Note that according to the site, this authorization would not call into question the exclusion of Turkey from the F-35 program.

The F-16 Block 70 Viper (here a Taiwanese model) has modernized avionics and a new AESA AN/APG-83 radar

This announcement comes a few days after Ismael Demir, the Turkish minister in charge of military equipment acquisitions, announced that he intended acquire a second Russian S-400 battery, in application of the initial contract which provided for the delivery of 2 batteries, whereas only one of them was actually delivered in 2019. It is possible that the shift in the positions of American parliamentarians predated this announcement, and that this could reverse the effects. However, it is also possible, however, that it was a decision to keep Ankara in better shape vis-à-vis the Atlantic Alliance and the United States, while tensions with Russia put Turkey back at the heart of the Allied defensive system on the southern front of the Alliance and in the Black Sea.


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