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Turkey close to buying 30 new block 50 F-16s

August 1, 2006 (by Lieven Dewitte) - US defense magazine, "Defense News," has published an article asserting that Turkey is planning on buying 30 new advanced block 50 F-16s for its air force.

A block 52+ in production at Lockheed Martin

A Turkish authority interviewed for the article said that talks are continuing between Turkey and the Lockheed Martin on the subject of the potential purchase, and that an agreement might be reached in the next few months.

Last year, Greece signed a deal for the acquistion of 30 block 52+ F-16s (20 F-16C and 10 F-16D jets) from the US. The total value of that program was approximately $2 billion. The final Greek aircraft will be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2009.

Turkey is close to a decision to acquire an additional 30 F-16 fighter jets on top of its current inventory of around 215 F-16s.

The government sees it as a alternative stopgap solution until new-generation fighters like the JSF or the Eurofighter Typhoon join its Air Force. The original solution was to upgrade 48 Vietnam War-era F-4E Phantom fighters but that $480 million effort could be put on hold or at least be limited in scope if the deal comes trough.

Turkey would begin receiving F-35A Lightning IIs as of about 2015 if it remains in the program.

Military and procurement officials said a contract may emerge in the next few months if all technical and financial negotiations go smoothly with Bethesda, Md.-based jet maker Lockheed Martin.