Turkey seeks fighter jets to replenish its obsolete fleet

Faced with the aging of its combat fleet, Turkey has entered into discussions with European states for the purchase of forty Eurofighter Typhoons, at a time when the United States seems in no hurry to sell it the forty F-16s and the repair kits she has been asking for for two years.

These negotiations come at a time of tension in the American-Turkish relationship, Washington having made the supply of the planes conditional on the ratification of Sweden’s membership in the Atlantic Alliance, which has still not been approved by the Turkish Parliament .

“We want to buy the Eurofighter. It’s a very efficient plane.”, declared Defense Minister Yasar Güler in mid-November. Stating that two of the countries producing the Eurofighter Typhoon – the United Kingdom and Spain – were ready to sell it to Ankara, Mr. Güler then explained that “these countries are now striving to convince Germany ». This purchase project was also discussed during the visit to Ankara on Thursday, November 23, of the British Minister of Defense, Grant Shapps, with whom a strengthening of military cooperation was discussed.

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But the approval of Germany, a member of the consortium which manufactures the Eurofighter, is far from assured for Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was able to measure this during his visit to Berlin on November 18, with Chancellor Olaf Scholz remaining unmoved by the mention of the subject. “He made no comment”lamented the Turkish number one on the plane taking him back to Ankara.

Opposition of the German coalition

“If they want to give us these planes, give them to us!” Otherwise, we can knock on other doors, there is no shortage of them”, he insisted, recalling in passing the purchase by Turkey, a NATO member, of Russian S-400 air defense systems, designed to detect Alliance aircraft. Which, in 2019, led to it being excluded from the manufacturing and purchase program for American F-35 aircraft.

The blow was tough, because Ankara was banking on the acquisition of these latest generation stealth fighters to replenish its obsolete fleet. Equipped with F-16s and F-14s of old designs, the Turkish Air Force is today seeing its planes reach the end of their life, without having an alternative solution. However, the modernization of its air force is an absolute priority for Mr. Erdogan, eager to strengthen its defense capabilities, if only because Greece has acquired Rafale combat aircraft and wishes to acquire F- 35.

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