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In a significant development in international defense relations, Bloomberg has reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz may block the sale of Eurofighter Typhoon jets to Turkey. This potential decision is poised to impact Turkey’s ambitious plans to modernize its air force, which currently includes replacing a portion of its aging fleet with up to 40 Eurofighter Typhoons.
The Eurofighter Typhoon, renowned for its cutting-edge technology and versatile combat capabilities, plays a pivotal role in Turkey’s strategic plan to bolster its air defense systems. Acquiring these jets would represent a major advancement over the current fleet of aging F-16 / F-4 fighter jets in Turkey especially after the delay of the sale of F-16V fighter jets upgrades from United States. This upgrade is especially crucial as it aims to enhance Turkey’s operational capabilities, which currently fall short in comparison to the advanced Hellenic Air Force of Greece.
Amidst the dynamic shifts in regional military power, Turkey is facing an urgent requirement for new fighter jets, particularly given Greece’s recent strategic advancements in response to thousands of Turkish airspace violations and threats from the Turkish President. The Hellenic Air Force has substantially bolstered its capabilities by acquiring advanced “4.5th generation” RAFALE jets from France and undertaking a comprehensive upgrade of its F-16 fleet to the latest F-16V configuration. This significant enhancement of Greece’s aerial combat capacity highlights an increasing imbalance in regional air power, a disparity Turkey is actively seeking to counterbalance.
Moreover, Greece’s potential acquisition of 40 new F-35s from the United States further intensifies the urgency for Turkey to upgrade its fleet. This possible expansion of Greece’s advanced fighter arsenal places Turkey in a position where the need for modern, sophisticated aircraft like the Eurofighter Typhoon is not just a matter of upgrading, but a strategic necessity to maintain regional balance and air superiority.
Response from Turkey’s Baykar
In light of this potential setback, Haluk Bayraktar, CEO of Turkish defense company Baykar, offered a brief comment, suggesting that Turkey might see this as an opportunity to focus on indigenous defense projects, particularly in the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) sector. Bayraktar stated, “The pace of technological progress… [indicates] that manned jet aircraft will become increasingly dangerous… The denial of these aircraft… will allow us to develop our own UAVs, offering an advantage for the rapid development of our country’s defense ecosystem.”
Bayraktar’s statement, while acknowledging the challenge, also reflects a strategic shift towards self-reliance in defense technology, highlighting Turkey’s growing interest in unmanned systems, a trend that is becoming increasingly prominent in modern warfare but it’s not yet clear that it can be a solution against a formidable manned Air Force at least for now.
This development raises questions about the future of defense collaborations within Europe and the strategic dynamics of the region. If Germany’s potential refusal to sell the Eurofighter Typhoons to Turkey is confirmed, it could not only hinder Turkey’s military upgrade plans but also reshape its approach to defense procurement and regional alliances.