Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar has expressed frustration over talks with the U.S. on its acquisition of F-16 Block 70 jets moving at snail’s pace.
Ankara has been seeking to modernize its existing fleet to update its air force and sought to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 jets and nearly 80 modernization kits from the U.S., a deal reportedly valued at $20 billion.
“It's going a little slow. This is our most important problem. We are purchasing 40 F-16 Block 70 Vipers. Along with these F-16s, the modernization of our F-16s is in question,” Akar told Turkey’s state-owned media.
He stressed that Turkey was waiting for approval by the U.S. Congress, and added that the discussions with the American side have been “positive.”
Akar also signaled Turkey could look at other fighters in the market in case the U.S. fails to provide it with the requested F-16s, just like how it bought Russian S-400s after U.S. denied selling it Patriots. “We want everyone to know that we are not desperate in this matter; we have options in our hands.”