Turkish Aerospace, Aselsan Sign $2B F-16 Upgrade Deal

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 12:28 PM, July 19, 2023
  • 1757
Turkish Aerospace, Aselsan Sign $2B F-16 Upgrade Deal
Turkish Air Force F-16s @Turkey MoD

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and Aselsan inked two contracts worth nearly $2 billion combined to upgrade the air force’s F-16 combat jets.

The deals – worth $1.2 billion and $789.2 million – were signed on June 13 but both companies did not provide any details.

Turkey has also been seeking to buy 40 new F-16 fighter jets as well as nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes from the U.S., looking to revamp and refresh its aging fleet. Jake Sullivan, the U.S. national security adviser, recently hinted that the F-16 deal with Turkey was moving forward.

A government procurement official and sources with the businesses told Defense News that the contracts are related to a program to upgrade Turkey’s aging F-16s, starting with the Block 30 level.

The upgrade program will include a new mission computer, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and new avionic suites for about 150 Turkish F-16 aircraft. The program will also include new cockpit color displays, a new indigenous identification friend or foe system, a new system interface unit, a hydraulic fuel gauge, new radar warning receivers, and an inertial navigation system.

Turkish Aerospace, Aselsan Sign $2B F-16 Upgrade Deal
Turkish Air Force F-16 @Turkey MoD

The backbone of the upgrade program is a subsystem dubbed Ozgur that aims to develop and produce Turkey’s first AESA radar, which Aselsan officials hope will extend the flight time for some of the country’s F-16s by half, to 12,000 hours.

Per upgrade plans, the AESA radar will first be retrofitted onto the Akinci, a drone built by TAI; then on a batch of 36 F-16 Block 30 aircraft; and, in the longer term, the TF-X, Turkey’s first indigenous fighter jet in the making. Block 30 is the only F-16 model whose source codes are available to Turkey.

“.... once [the upgrade is successful and the aircraft is] combat proven, it may pave the way for Aselsan and TAI to penetrate into the world’s large F-16 modernization market,” Ozgur Eksi, who runs the media outlet TurDef, was quoted as saying by the report.

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