Turkey could take a heel turn by rejecting U.S.-made F-16s for Chinese and Russian alternatives, with a Turkish presidency official hinting the same.
In late February, U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken said that Turkey will not be able to get F-16s without approval from Congress; which means, its conflict with Greece, and its stance on Sweden and Finland's joining the NATO need to be addressed.
"I believe that after the earthquakes, Turkiye will give up asking for F-16 because it is $20 billion cost package," Cagri Erhan, a member of the Turkish Presidency’s Security and Foreign Policies Council, told Sputnik in an interview today.
Erhan believes Turkey “made a mistake” requesting F-16s because they are “outdated and not competitive” against other new advanced jets available in the market today.
Turkey was supposed to buy F-35 stealth jets but was removed from the program over its acquisition of S-400 missile systems from Russia. On Jan. 18, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara was hoping to overcome the difficulties on F-16s with Washington, noting that the purchase was in line with the joint strategic interests of both countries.
“Turkey was expecting to buy F-35s through its participation in the program,” he said. “Now we have other options like the Chinese jet, which was sold to Pakistan, Russian jets and also Eurofighter jet.”
Turkey has been demanding the $1.5 billiion advance paid for its purchase of the F-35 but settled for the F-16 jets to bolster its declining fighter jet levels.
Turkish President Erdogan was invited to the launch of the international edition of Su-57 in 2019 where he praised the Su-57 and the Su-35.
Since then, the Su-57 and Su-35's performance in Ukraine has impressed its Western detractors.