The success of the upgrade program for the 83 Greek F-16 block 52+ with the schedule being reverently observed and the EAB “running” the project in collaboration with Lockheed Martin without the slightest problem, has irritated the Turkish staff.
Already in Crete, the first two Vipers of the 343 Fighter Squadron “Asteri” are flying non-stop with the squadron’s pilots being introduced to their “secrets”. And to state that they are impressed with the capabilities of the fighter with the cutting-edge “AESA” radar and the advanced electronics that give the pilot a wealth of information from the battlefield.
At the same time, all electronics are activated as a fully domestic system”. According to Turkish Media, Ankara has decided to proceed with the “OZGUR-2” upgrade program for the TuAF’s F-16 block 50. And even to start immediately since the decision of the American Congress is expected to be time-consuming and with an uncertain result, apparently due to the tough attitude of the President of the Committee on Foreign Relations, Robert Menendez. Aviation sources, commenting on such a possibility, speak of a very high-risk decision which will in fact put a definitive “tombstone” on the already difficult relationship between Washington and Ankara.
The nightmare of the Rafale and the Viper is now a reality for the Turkish air force. Although not even a year has passed since the first flights of the French “Rips” and a few weeks since the “Vipers” began, the first reactions of Ankara show panic.
Erdoğan and Akar’s ironies about the inability of a “few” fighters to change the image over the Aegean have been cut with a “knife” and their place has been taken by vague threats and lionization without a counterpoint. While at the same time, Turkey is desperately looking for a solution-answer to the absolute aerial dominance of the Hellenic Air Force which, in fact, as the months pass will become more and more visible.
A series of statements by Turkish officials as well as a barrage of publications in the Turkish press demonstrate that Ankara is now on the verge of panic. He threatens and blackmails to get American F-16s, shows Russia supposedly waiting around the corner to sell him Russian fighters, desperately looks for other solutions such as the British Typhoon Eurofighters while recently leaking that the Turkish defense industry is able to proceed with upgrade of the F-16 and in fact without even requesting permission from the manufacturing country USA and the manufacturing company Lockheed Martin.
The statement of the president of the Defense Industry Organization, Ismail Demir, is typical. “We would certainly do the modernization of the F-16s ourselves. And we will get along very well.