US President Biden backtracks on Turkish F-16 upgrade

Talks between US President Joe Biden’s administration and Congress, reported by The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, over the possibility of upgrading Turkey’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets, have brought to the fore differences in perspective between executive and legislature over whether Ankara should be bolstered with US weapons while it was under sanctions for its acquisition of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles.

A potential deal could include high-tech missiles, radar systems and electronic warfare suites for fighters.

According to the report, the Biden administration is probing Congress regarding the sale of AMRAAM and Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, as well as $400 million worth of radar, which is essential to support the Army’s existing F-16s. Turkish air.

This follows a letter from the US State Department to Congress on March 17 supporting a Turkish request to sell new F-16s and upgrade older versions, consistent with US national security interests and as needed. of NATO unity – in response to an earlier bipartisan statement. by senators against such a possibility.

Ankara’s request was submitted in October and includes the purchase of 40 new F-16 Block 70s (i.e. Vipers, to which 83 Greek F-16s have been upgraded) and upgrading level to the same version of 80 existing Turkish F-16s.

The cost is estimated at around $6 billion and exceeds the financial loss Ankara claims to have suffered following its expulsion from Lockheed Martin’s fifth-generation F-35 aircraft development program due to its acquisition of the S -400 in 2017. The loss is estimated at around $1.4 billion and was cited by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a key argument to justify Turkey’s supply of F-16s.

However, many US officials remain critical, citing Erdogan’s leadership as a regional threat.

Commenting on the Wall Street Journal article, Greece’s main opposition party SYRIZA issued a press release lambasting Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his foreign policy decision.

The statement said that shortly before his official visit to Washington, Mitsotakis is pursuing, “to the detriment of the interests of the Greek people, the most dangerous foreign policy of the post-dictatorship era, at the most crucial moment for the evolution of our society at large”. Region.”

Kevin E. Boling