Turkey, US in talks over F-16s, F-35s: Defense minister 

Turkey, US in talks over F-16s, F-35s: Defense minister 

Turkey, US in talks over F-16s, F-35s: Defense minister

Turkey and the United States have initiated separate talks for the former’s request over the acquisition of 40 F-16 fighter jets and the reimbursement of payment for F-35 jets which the U.S. didn’t deliver, the Turkish defense minister has said, informing that a Turkish delegation has been dispatched to Washington to this end. 

“A delegation from our ministry is now in the U.S. to discuss all these issues with their counterparts,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told a parliamentary panel on Nov. 16 while defending the Defense Ministry’s budget for 2022. The current talks aim to discuss Turkey’s demands to strengthen its air forces by purchasing new F-16s. 

Recalling that Turkey was ousted from the F-35 program due to its deployment of the S-400 air defense systems from Russia and the fighter jets Turkey paid for were not delivered, Akar said, “After these developments, the Turkish and American delegations met in Ankara on Oct. 27, 2021. Our views and demands were conveyed for the reimbursement of payments Turkey made for the F-35s and other damages it suffered.”

Turkey says it paid $1.4 billion for five planes and asks the U.S. to reimburse the money after it was formally excluded from the program on Sept. 23, 2021. These talks are described to be technical and will be held with the participation of legal consultants, lawyers and experts. 

“It’s been agreed that these delegations will meet again in early 2022 in the U.S. to hold detailed discussions about the financial issues,” Akar stated. 

Positive mood for F-16 sales

On the other hand, Turkey and the U.S. are also talking about a recent request from the former for the acquisition of 40 F-16s and 80 modernization kits for its existing fleets, Akar informed. 

Turkey made the official request on Sept. 30, the minister stated, “We think that the U.S. will have a positive approach. But we follow the developments as the process should go through congressional approval. Should the U.S. attitude be negative, then Turkey will have to assess other options in order for its security in an environment full of threats.”

A delegation from the U.S. is expected to be in Turkey next month for moving forward with the Turkish government’s request for the F-16s. Talks are expected to take months before they could be submitted to the U.S. Congress.    

On the S-400s, Akar reiterated that Turkey was seeking to secure its air space through air defense systems since the 1990s and that an agreement with Russia for the supply of the S-400s was signed in April 2017. 
“S-400s is a defense system and can be used within the NATO alliance in the same way the S-300s are being used,” he vowed, referring to Greece, which has the S-300 air defense systems along with some former Warsaw Pact members that still have Russian weapon systems. NATO, however, says that the S-400s are not compatible with the NATO systems and will never be used as part of the integrated allied air defense system. 

'YPG, PKK are same' 

On the U.S. support to the YPG in northern Syria, Akar informed lawmakers that they keep explaining to the U.S. and other interlocutors that the YPG and the PKK are the same and both are terrorist organizations.   

“There is no any doubt about the fact that the PKK and the YPG are the same thing. Even some terrorist chieftains have confessed that their so-called field commanders in Syria were previously serving for the PKK. Plus, some experts voiced the need for ending the U.S. relationship with the YPG during some sessions at the U.S. Senate,” he said.  

Turkey will continue its operations to secure its borders and citizens, the minister repeated, vowing that the Turkish army would retaliate against any kind of attack or harassment by the terrorists.

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