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Cutting Ties: Turkey’s Solo Journey to Supercharged F-16s – Enhanced Radar, Advanced Missiles, and Independent Upgrades

The situation regarding Turkey’s acquisition of F-16 Fighting Falcon jets undergoes weekly fluctuations. It is probable that Turkey will internally enhance the fighters. Here’s What We Know: In mid-March, high-ranking officials expressed the possibility that Turkey might decline purchasing the latest upgraded F-16V Block 70/72 fighters worth $20 billion due to a stalemate in negotiations with the US.

Just a few days ago, Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed that Turkey will indeed receive the latest upgraded F-16 Viper Block 70/72 fighters. Simultaneously, Savunma Sanayi ST reported that the Turkish fighters would undergo upgrades without any involvement from the United States. The modernization project for these fourth-generation aircraft is known as ÖZGÜR. According to the source, Turkey will have the capability to upgrade all Block 30, Block 40, and Block 50 aircraft to Block 70/72.

The Turkish Air Force possesses a fleet of over two hundred fourth-generation aircraft. Under the modernization project, the aircraft will be equipped with a new Turkey Develops OZGUR Active Phased Array Radar for F-16 Fighting Falcon Fighters. Utilizing gallium nitride, this radar outperforms its counterparts, enabling tracking of naval, ground, and aerial targets. Interestingly, the initial information on the new radar indicated that Turkey would only be able to upgrade 35 out of the 43 F-16 Block 30 aircraft.

This limitation was attributed to the absence of source code for Block 40 and Block 50. Apart from the radar, the upgrades also encompass a new digital cockpit, facilitating augmented reality information display on the pilot’s helmet. Additionally, the fighters will receive a Turkish version of the Link 16 communications system, enabling data exchange with fifth-generation aircraft and identification of other aircraft in friend-or-foe mode.

Another enhancement for Turkey’s F-16s involves the integration of Merlin and Peregrin missiles, replacing the US AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles. These missiles were successfully tested by Turkey last summer.

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