Turkey Considering Upgrading F-16 Fighters as Alternative to F-35s

© AP Photo / Selcan HacaogluA Turkish F-16 prepares to taxi while another one takes off during Anatolian Eagle exercise at 3rd Main Jet Air Base near the central Anatolian city of Konya, Turkey, Monday, June 15, 2009
A Turkish F-16 prepares to taxi while another one takes off during Anatolian Eagle exercise at 3rd Main Jet Air Base near the central Anatolian city of Konya, Turkey, Monday, June 15, 2009 - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.10.2021
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ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkey is considering the possibility of expanding its fleet and upgrading existing F-16 military aircraft as an alternative to purchasing the latest F-35 fighter jets from the US, after the deal was scrapped by Washington due to Ankara's purchase of the Russian S-400s, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalyn said.
"Our first choice is to buy the F-35, and this is our right. If the crisis with the United States is overcome, Turkey will re-enter the program and we will receive our F-35s. If the problem is not solved, we will continue to search for alternatives. The expansion of the existing fleet of F-16s and their modernization can be considered an alternative. Depending on the conditions, a final decision will be made based on our needs," Kalyn said in an interview with Milliyet newspaper.
He added that Turkey's exclusion from the F-35 program is "completely illegal and unfair," noting that Turkey had already paid the United States $1.4 billion for participation in the program.
In April, the United States reportedly sent an official notification to Turkey about its exclusion from the production program of the latest F-35 fighter jets due to Ankara's purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system. The seven remaining partners in the F-35 project are the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Canada and Norway.
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