Türkiye maintains its interest in buying Eurofighter Typhoon jets, according to a Turkish Defense Ministry official, despite the fact that the United States has proceeded with the sale of its F-16 warplanes to Ankara.
A prolonged process of Türkiye’s request to buy F-16 jets, which tested ties between Ankara and Washington, led the nation to begin discussions to buy Eurofighters.
Türkiye announced in November it was in talks with Britain and Spain to buy 40 Eurofighter jets, though Germany has objected to the idea. Ankara has been urging Germany to align with the NATO spirit.
At the time, a Turkish Defense Ministry source said talks had begun after Ankara recognized its request for F-16 jets from the U.S., first made in October 2021, might not work out.
Last week, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration formally notified Congress of its intention to proceed with the sale of 40 Lockheed Martin F-16s and nearly 80 modernization kits to Türkiye, a day after Ankara fully completed ratification of the NATO membership of Sweden.
The Biden administration had repeatedly supported the $23 billion sale, but several lawmakers in Congress had tied the sale to Türkiye’s approval of Sweden’s NATO bid.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan eventually also made Sweden’s membership contingent on approving the sale of the new planes.
Although it does not expect Congress to block the F-16 sale, Türkiye still wants to buy Eurofighter Typhoon jets, a Turkish Defense Ministry official told Reuters on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“We are still interested, we expect the consortium member Germany’s positive approach on this issue,” the official said.
The Eurofighter Typhoon jets are built by a consortium of Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain, represented by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo.
Türkiye, which is keen to upgrade its air force, is also developing its own national combat aircraft, named Kaan, in cooperation with BAE.
Türkiye sought to purchase Lockheed Martin’s more advanced F-35 fighter jets, but the U.S. removed it from the multinational program to buy and help develop and build the warplane in 2019 after it acquired S-400s from Russia.
Washington argued the air missile defense systems posed a risk to the advanced fighter jet, whereas Ankara insisted they would not be integrated into NATO systems.
Türkiye had ordered about 100 F-35s and its companies were building some 900 parts for the fighter jet.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said this week Washington was open to welcoming Türkiye back into the F-35 fighter jet program if the issue over the S-400 air defense system is resolved.