Upgrading Turkey’s F-16s is strategic malpractice

It has been almost three years since the United States formally kicked Turkey out of the consortium to build and fly the next generation F-35 joint strike fighter. The move followed Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles that, when operational, would allow Russian engineers to gather intelligence on the capabilities of American aircraft.

After losing the F-35s, Turkey waited until President Joe Biden took office and then requested to purchase 40 F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits for 80 more. Both the State Department and Congress, however, must approve of any such transfer.

It was against this backdrop that Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey sent a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken asking both about the continuity of sanctions on Turkey for its use of S-400s, as well as Turkey’s request for upgraded F-16s. Naz Durakoglu, a legislative affairs specialist at the State Department, just responded justifying the new sale to Turkey.

“Turkey is a longstanding NATO Ally with the second largest military in the Alliance,” she wrote. “It is an active contributor to NATO missions including most recently in Eastern Europe, the Black Sea, the Balkans, and Afghanistan. Turkey’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and cooperative defense relations are an important deterrent to malign influence in the region.”

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Πηγή: aei.org

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