After years waiting for the F-16 Block 70/72, Turkey is now turning to the Eurofighter consortium, however Germany might not allow the sale.
The Turkish Minister of National Defense confirmed that officials are in talks with the United Kingdom and Spain to procure 40 Eurofighter Typhoon fighters, after the long-sought acquisition of the F-16 Block 70/72 does not make progress. In fact, Turkey requested in 2021 the sale of 40 newly built F-16 and the modernization kits for 79 F-16s already in service, but so far only a separate avionics upgrade has been authorized.
It appears, however, that Germany is not happy about the request and might block it like the similar request from Saudi Arabia. “We are working on procurement,” said Yasar Guler, Turkey’s Minister of National Defense. “Now the UK and Spain are making efforts to convince Germany, [although] we are not in talks with Germany…if possible, we plan to purchase 40 Eurofighter Typhoon jets.”
The Eurofighter consortium includes the UK, Italy, Germany and Spain, each of whom can veto an export sale, however Italy has not been mentioned by Turkish authorities, possibly meaning that Germany is the only one currently opposing the sale. The possibility for a consortium partner to veto a sale applies to both newly built and second hand aircraft.
Turkish authorities did not specify if the talks involve new or used aircraft, however some news reports state that the latter should be the solution chosen by Turkey. Earlier this year, Turkey reportedly talked again with the UK about a massive arms sale that included also two squadrons of Typhoons, but no other info emerged about this deal. The talks about the Typhoon were considered as an alternative should the US decide to not authorize the F-16 procurement to Turkey.
The situation has similar traits to the one with the new sale of 48 Typhoons to Saudi Arabia which Germany has vetoed. For this sale, a memorandum of intent was already signed in 2018 but then the acquisition process stalled. According to British and German media, the UK has even considered using a legal clause that could temporarily force Germany out of the Eurofighter program, however later abandoned the idea to avoid damaging defense and industry relationships.
In the meanwhile, Airbus and Germany’s metalworkers union IG Metall held an “action day” at the Eurofighter production line in Manching, demanding the German government deliver Tranche 5 and Long Term Evolution contracts to avoid the prospect of a production shutdown in 2030. The government announced its commitment to acquire the Tranche 5, but details are still being determined.
Airbus Defence and Space CEO Michael Schoellhorn said the government needs to make a fundamental decision about Tranche 5 before the end of the year, as this would allow to sustain long term production and develop future aircraft capabilities, without causing a loss of core military competencies as well as production capacities in the entire supply chain.
There are currently 83 aircraft on order and a further order of 40 Typhoons from Turkey, as well as the 48 from Saudi Arabia would help keep the production going for a few more years after 2030.