Ankara now wants to buy 40 F-16 jets
Fears of an arms race between Greece and Turkey escalated on Friday after a Reuters report claimed Turkey had requested the purchase of 40 F-16 fighter jets from the United States to modernize its military air. This decision coincides with the recent agreement concluded by Greece to acquire Rafale planes and frigates from France.
Although Greece emphasizes that it is not seeking to start an arms race in the Aegean Sea, the two countries intend to spend heavily on defense, trying to gain a strategic advantage over the other.
Turkey asks US for F-16s
“Sources familiar with the matter,” Reuters reports, say Turkey has asked the United States to purchase 40 F-16 fighter jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing fighter jets.
The multi-billion dollar deal is still pending in the overseas military sale process which is subject to approval by the US State Department as well as the US Congress which can block the deals.
“Typically, the department does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress,” a State Department spokesperson said.
Ankara had ordered more than 100 F-35 jets, also manufactured by Lockheed Martin, but was withdrawn from the program in 2019 after acquiring Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Reuters reports that the aircraft request is likely to struggle to gain approval from the US Congress, where sentiment towards Turkey has deteriorated dramatically in recent years, mainly due to Ankara’s purchase of the S-400s and of his problematic human rights record.
Turkey warns Greece against arms race
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Friday warned Greece against an arms race against Turkey after a military deal between Paris and Athens.
“A love of armaments began in Greece, especially recently, by making agreements with the encouragement and provocation of certain countries. Look at math first, history first. You cannot get an advantage against Turkey with such attempts, give up this effort, ”he said, addressing the opening of the Naval Academy of the National Defense University of the academic year 2021-2022 on October 8.
Greece’s economic situation is fragile, said the minister, recalling that the country is seriously in debt. “It worsens the economy by spending needlessly with the love of armaments and is for the welfare of the Greek people. Reasonable people in Greece should see this,” he said.
None of these initiatives can progress, he said and added: “We have taken every precaution against this, and we are taking them. We are extremely determined and capable in this regard.
Agreement with France must not lead to arms race, Greece says
Greece on Thursday ratified its strategic pact with France, which includes a mutual assistance clause in the event of an armed attack against the territory of one of the two.
In addition, the agreement, signed in Paris on September 28, stipulates that Greece will purchase three advanced frigates, with an option for a fourth, and a delivery date of between 2025 and 2026. The frigates will also be compatible with the jets that Greece is also buying in France. This year, it has already ordered some 24 Rafale manufactured by Dassault.
Greece says it has no intention of launching an arms race in the region and that France’s new weapon systems are acquired only for deterrence.
On September 30, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “I have no intention of embarking on an arms race with Turkey, and I always extend the hand of friendship to Turkey.
Speaking at a Democracy Forum conference in Athens, he added: “We have big differences on many issues, but there should be a way to resolve these differences through dialogue,” Mitsotakis said. . “At the same time, we will defend our territory, our territorial integrity, our sovereignty, our sovereign rights. And to do that, we need a strong deterrent.
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