The Turkish Air Force Command plans to modernize 165 F16 jets with block levels of 30, 40 and 50, gradually transforming them into powerful viper level warplanes by the year 2030, local media has reported.
The move comes as part of Türkiye‘s efforts to bolster its air combat capabilities in the face of potential weaknesses resulting from its exclusion from the F35 program.
As the country’s fifth generation national combat aircraft, or MMU, is set to be introduced into service between 2028 and 2030, the focus is on upgrading the existing F16 fleet to 4+ generation level, daily Milliyet wrote.
The modernization project aims to equip the F16s with a national system and integrate domestic missiles and ammunition, thereby enhancing their overall performance and combat capabilities.
The Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), in coordination with the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TUSAŞ), will oversee the projects aimed at meeting the need for modernization. The signing ceremony for these projects took place at Türkiye’s 16th International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF).
F16 warplanes currently constitute the backbone of the Air Force Command, with 244 jets in its inventory following the 48 Phantoms. Over the years, Türkiye received a total of 240 F16, including 44 F16 Block 30, 116 F16 Block 40 and 80 F16 Block 50, with a significant portion being produced domestically.
However, the production ceased in Türkiye in 1999, leading to the purchase of 30 F16 Block 50+ configuration aircraft from the United States, bringing the total number of F16 series jets in the inventory to 270. Presently, this number has decreased to 244 due to various factors such as accidents.
Türkiye officially requested to buy 40 new F16s and 79 modernization kits from the U.S. after it was expelled from the F35 next generation fighter jet program. Due to the objections in the U.S. Congress, the Biden administration has not yet formally sent the sale to the approval of the congressmen.