F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Turkey looking to purchase 40 F-16 Block 70s as lifespan of current fleet nears its end

December 6, 2021 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has confirmed that Turkey's fleet of F-16 fighter jets has reached the end of its service life and is now seeking to acquire 40 modern F-16 fighter jets as well as 80 modernization kits to upgrade its current fleet.

TuAF F-16 block 40 #92-0023 from 132 Filo is coming in for landing at Konya AB during exercise Anatolian Eagle on July 1st, 2021. [Photo by Richard Ford]

The Turkish Air Force is not only short on manpower following the failed 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoan, but it is also unable to acquire the US-made 5th Generation F-35 fighter jets.

Turkey had requested up to 100 fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters from the US for its air force, but was booted from the F-35 programso after purchasing upgraded S-400 air defence missiles from Russia.

Turkey is in the process of purchasing 40 modern F-16 fighter jets from the United States, as well as 80 modernization kits to modify and extend the lives of its aging F-16s. Turkey's air force is built around these fighter jets. Ankara has been operating F-16s since 1987, making it the world's third largest operator of the F-16

“The U.S. Department of Defence stated that our needs could be met, but congressional approval was required,” he added. “We are waiting for the results of these.”

Turkey, on the other hand, does not have a guarantee of congressional approval because of popular opposition to the S-400 purchase and the current Turkish government's practices that are incompatible with American interests.

Denmark allegedly plans to sell 24 of its F-16s before 2025, as the country begins taking delivery of 27 fifth-generation F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters from the United States. Turkey was one country that Danish media speculated might be interested in those F-16s.

Turkish security sources, on the other hand, have refuted this claim. Even if Turkey does desire the Danish F-16s, it's unlikely that Copenhagen will be able to sell them to Ankara without first obtaining US approval.

Additional images:

TuAF F-16C block 40 #91-0007 from 162 Filo is parked on the flightline at Konya AB on June 25th, 2019 during exercise Anatolian Eagle. [Photo by John de Winter]

USAF F-16C block 40 #89-0036 from 162 Filo is flying over a Turkish monument with a sistership. [TuAF photo]