Erdogan says Turkey in talks with US on sale of F-16 fighter jets

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Turkish president says the US proposed the sale of F-16 fighter jets in return for its funding within the F-35 programme.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the United States proposed promoting F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in return for its funding within the F-35 programme, from which Ankara was eliminated after buying missile defence programs from Russia.

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Speaking to reporters on Sunday earlier than departing for a visit to Africa, Erdogan mentioned Turkey needs a return for its funding within the F-35 programme and that talks on the problem are ongoing.

“There is the payment of $1.4bn we have made for the F-35s and the US had such a proposal in return for these payments,” Erdogan mentioned.

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“And regarding this, we said let’s take whatever steps are needed to be taken to meet the defence needs of our country,” he mentioned.

“We are working to further develop our fleet from the modernisation of the F-16s in our possession to new additional F-16 purchases,” the Turkish chief mentioned.

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Ankara had ordered greater than 100 F-35 jets, made by Lockheed Martin Corp, however the US eliminated Turkey from the programme in 2019 after it acquired Russian S-400 missile defence programs.

The decades-old partnership between the NATO allies has gone by way of unprecedented tumult previously 5 years over disagreements on Syria coverage, Ankara’s nearer ties with Moscow, its naval ambitions within the japanese Mediterranean, US fees towards a state-owned Turkish financial institution, and Turkey’s human rights file.

Ankara’s buy of the S-400s has additionally triggered US sanctions. In December 2020, Washington blacklisted Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate, its chief, Ismail Demir, and three different workers.

Erdogan has indicated Ankara nonetheless intends to purchase a second batch of S-400s from Russia, a move that might deepen the rift with Washington.

The US has warned Turkey of additional dangers to bilateral ties if it purchased extra weapons from Russia.

Reuters information company reported earlier this month that Turkey made a request to the United States to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernisation kits for its present warplanes.

The request for the jets might have a tough time getting approval from the US Congress, the place sentiment in direction of Turkey has soured deeply over current years.

There is bipartisan help within the US Congress to push the Biden administration to place additional stress on Ankara, primarily over its buy of Russian weapons and its human rights monitor file.

Ankara has mentioned it hopes for higher ties beneath US President Joe Biden.

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