Turkey will not be able to arm the newly acquired F-16s with self-developed Turkish ammunition. This ban will only be for the 40 F-16 Block 70 fighters that Ankara and Washington are negotiating. The remaining Turkish Air Force weapon modifications – such as Block 30, Block 40 and Block 50 – will have no problem using Turkish ammunition once upgraded.
The news follows a statement by the president of the Turkish defense industry, Ismail Demir. Asked by journalists, he made the following statement: “We cannot launch domestic F-16 Block 70 ammunition, which will be purchased abroad. You can only throw your own ammunition in blocks 30, 40 and 50.
If true, this condition from Washington will not change the situation of the modernization of Turkish F-16s. The condition sounds more like part of a set of conditions that Turkey must ensure it meets in order to receive the latest F-16 modifications.
At the same time, however, the US is not only guaranteeing itself higher sales since it will have to sell Block 70 weapons to Turkey but also in the long term. Demir did not say in his statement whether Ankara agreed to that condition. But, even if it’s not real if you want new F-16s, you’re obviously going to have to stick to it.
Demir’s statement reveals other information: Turkey has made great progress in modernizing US aircraft with its own domestic technology. Take, for example, the radar on old Turkish F-16s. Currently, the original radar is not capable of responding to modern warfare. The Turkish Aselsan, however, has developed its own AESA radar, which provides a vision of hundreds of kilometers and an attack by F-16s at a distance greater than the current one.
Turkey has entered into a serious intergovernmental and trade conflict with the US in recent years. The purchase of the Russian air defense system not only kicked Turkey out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter [JSF] program but also affected the supply and maintenance of US weapons it already possessed. Obsolete Turkish F-16s also fell into this category.
That is why Ankara started its own modernization program called Özgür. Highly publicized by Ankara, this program turned out to be very successful. Under the national resources program, the Turkish F-16s will receive a new mission computer, new flight software, a new flight control computer, a new digital cockpit, a new AESA radar, as well as new weaponry.
In addition to the locally developed AESA radar, another extremely important component is the mission computer. Thanks to him, the Turkish F-16s will be able to put under their wings all Turkish air-to-surface, air-to-air missiles, as well as glide bombs.
As for modernization, it is already in full swing. According to statements in the Turkish media, the first F-16 Block 30s have already been modernized. Once the entire inventory of Block 30 has been modernized, the modernization of Blocks 40 and 50 will come.
Turkish media reports that this is the Ozgur project’s first phase. When all F-16 fighters go through phase 2 in Ozgüz, then, according to local experts, the Turkish F-16s will come significantly closer to the latest version of the F-16 Block 70.
Türkiye will modernize 79 F-16 fighters. If Ankara wins permission to acquire Block 70, the Balkan nation’s F-16 fleet will reach 119 aircraft. The application, which the US State Department is reviewing, will be completed with the approval of the US Congress. However, some US senators and congressional representatives oppose Turkey’s request for the Block 70 F-16s.