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Türkiye to modernise F-16 fleet, Czech Republic announces intent to join F-35 club

134th Air Refuelling Wing and F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 337th Fighter Squadron fly over Greece, 20 June 2023. Photo: US National Guard/Airman 1st Class Ben Cash

The Republic of Türkiye has requested to buy 40 new F-16 fighter jet aircraft, while the Czech Republic has announced intentions to join the F-35 Lightning II Global Team.

The Republic of Türkiye has requested to buy 40 new F-16 fighter jet aircraft, while the Czech Republic has announced intentions to join the F-35 Lightning II Global Team.

The US State Department has approved the possible $23 billion foreign military sale of 32 F-16 C Block 70 aircraft and eight F-16 D Block 70 aircraft, plus the modernisation of 79 existing F-16 aircraft to V configuration for Türkiye. The US Congress was notified of the potential sale by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 26 January.

The request also includes 48 F110-GE-129D engines, 149 improved programmable display generators, 149 AN/APG-83 active electronically scanned array scalable agile beam radars, 169 modular mission computers 7000AHC, 159 Embedded Global Positioning System Inertial Navigation Systems with selective availability anti-spoofing module, 168 Integrated Viper Electronic Warfare Suite or equivalent electronic warfare systems, 858 LAU-129 guided missile launchers, 44 M61 Vulcan cannons, 16 AN/AAQ-33 sniper advanced targeting pods, and 151 Multifunctional Information Distribution System-Joint Tactical Radio Systems.


“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security of the United States by improving the air capabilities and interoperability of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally that is a force for political and economic stability in Europe,” according to a statement published by the DSCA.

“The proposed sale will allow Türkiye to expand and modernise its fleet of F-16 aircraft as older F-16 aircraft approach the end of their service life.

“These new and refurbished aircraft will provide Türkiye with a fleet of modernised multi-role combat aircraft to enable it to provide for the defence of its airspace, contribute to NATO missions to preserve regional security and defend NATO allies, and maintain interoperability with US and NATO forces.

“Türkiye has F-16 aircraft in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft and services into its armed forces. The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

Türkiye has also requested 952 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) AIM-120C-8 or equivalent missiles, 96 AMRAAM guidance sections, 864 GBU-39/B small diameter bombs increment 1, 2 GBU-39(T-1)/B SDB-1 guided test vehicles, 2 GBU-39(T-1)/B SDB-1 practice bombs, 96 AGM-88B high-speed anti-radiation missiles, 96 AGM-88E advanced anti-radiation guided missiles, 10 AARGM captive air training missiles, 11 AARGM control sections, 12 AARGM guidance sections, 401 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder missiles, 12 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder captive air training missiles, 40 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder tactical guidance units, 12 AIM-9X Block II Sidewinder CATM guidance units, 12 MK82 inert filled general purpose bombs, 850 joint direct attack munition (JDAM) KMU-556 tail kits for GBU-31, 200 JDAM KMU-557 tail kits for GBU-31v3, 384 JDAM KMU-559 tail kits for GBU-32, 3 JDAM KMU-572 tail kits for GBU-38 or laser JDAM GBU-54, and 1,050 FMU-152 fuses.

The sale also includes AIM-9X Sidewinder training missiles, active optical target detectors, rocket motors, warhead spares, secure communications, precision navigation and cryptographic equipment, major modernisation upgrade kits for F-16 Block 40 and Block 50+ aircraft and Service Life Extension Program modifications, repair parts, technical documentation, maps and mapping data, facilities and construction support.

Lockheed Martin will be the principal contractor and the proposed sale will not require the assignment of additional US government or contractor representatives to Türkiye.

Earlier this week, on 29 January, the government of Czech Republic signed a letter of offer and acceptance making official its intent to procure 24 Lockheed Martin 5th Generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

Through the US government foreign military sale, the Czech Air Force will receive its first aircraft in 2031, in the latest advanced Block 4 configuration.

The procurement also includes personnel training, service and logistical support, and developing other support services ensuring successful deliveries of all 24 F-35s.

“We are pleased the government of Czech Republic is now officially a part of the F-35 Lightning II program of record,” according to US Air Force Lieutenant General Mike Schmidt, program executive officer, F-35 Joint Program Office.

“This partnership with the Czech Ministry of Defence will deliver and sustain the F-35 aircraft for decades, while providing the Czech Air Force with unmatched interoperability and ensuring it has the capability to counter current and future threats.”

By the 2030s, more than 600 F-35s will work together from more than 10 European countries, including two full US F-35 squadrons stationed at Royal Air Force Lakenheath. The aircraft currently operates from 32 bases worldwide.

“With the signing of the letter of offer and acceptance between the Czech Republic and US governments, the Czech Republic becomes the 18th nation to join the global F-35 program,” according to Bridget Lauderdale, Lockheed Martin vice-president and F-35 program general manager.

“We are honoured to partner with the Czech Republic Air Force as its F-35s join other European nations in strengthening and growing interoperability, significantly increasing NATO’s deterrent capability.

“The F-35 is the best solution for the Czech Republic’s future fighter fleet with fifth generation capabilities enhancing the nation’s effectiveness in the 21st century security battlespace.”

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