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ANKARA: Turkiye began discussing buying 40 Eurofighter Typhoon jets with European states after it saw that its request for F-16 jets from the United States may not work out, a Turkish defence ministry source said on Thursday.

Defence Minister Yasar Guler said last week that Turkiye was in talks with Britain and Spain to buy Eurofighter Typhoon jets, though Germany objected to the idea.

Guler was holding talks on the issue with his British counterpart Grant Shapps in Ankara on Thursday, the source said. Turkiye wants to buy the most advanced, newly built version of the Eurofighter, he added.

NATO member Turkiye requested in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters and 79 modernisation kits for its existing warplanes.

President Joe Biden’s administration supports the $20-billion sale, but there has been objections in the US Congress over Turkiye’s delaying of NATO enlargement and its human rights record.

Israel to buy 25 more F-35 stealth jets in $3bn deal

Turkiye has informed NATO that the ratification of Sweden’s membership bid will not be completed by the alliance’s foreign ministers meeting next week, further complicating matters.

“Turkish air forces are in need of new aircraft. Our first choice is F-16s… But considering the possibility that we might not get a positive response in this prolonged process, the Eurofighter Typhoon jets are the most suitable alternatives to F-16s,” the source said.

“The (officials from) the U.K. say that they could help convincing Germany to back down their objections,” he added.

The Eurofighter Typhoon jets are built by a consortium of Germany, Britain, Italy and Spain, represented by Airbus, BAE Systems and Leonardo.

Last chance

“For regional power balances, Turkiye’s need for a new technology fighter jet is no secret,” defence analyst Tayfun Ozberk said.

“In this context, the move to acquire the Eurofighters may have been made to pressure the Biden Administration to persuade the Congress for the sale of F-16s as soon as possible,” he added.

The Eurofighter Typhoons are “really the last chance to keep Turkiye in the Western defence industry,” according to Serhat Guvenc, an international relations professor at Kadir Has University.

“Acquiring the Eurofighter could create some operational issues as the Turkish Air Force operates in line with the American system. However, ultimately, the Eurofighter is a joint production of NATO members. Therefore, there shouldn’t be an interoperability problem,” he said.

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