In the framework of the NATO summit currently taking place in Madrid, Washington gave its support to Turkey’s plans to modernize its F-16 fleet after Ankara lifted its veto on the entry of Finland and Sweden.
Celeste Wallander, the Pentagon’s Under Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, told reporters that the U.S. fully supports the fighter modernization because her government understands that Turkey is «a very capable and highly valued strategic NATO ally.»
Wallander added that fleet modernization is a contribution to NATO security and thus to U.S. security.
«These plans are in place. And they must be worked through our procurement processes,» he added.
Apparently, negotiations between Ankara and Washington for the F-35 did not progress and that Turkey would not return to the JSF (Joint Strike Fighter) program, as long as it continues to use Russian S-400 air defense systems.
Modernization plans for the large Turkish F-16 fleet include the implementation of the ÖZGÜR project to upgrade 35 F-16 block 30s with in-house technology and the purchase of 80 modernization kits (for later block F-16s) as well as 40 new F-16 block 70s ex-factory from Lockheed Martin.