- According to Karakuş, Biden is unable to approve the sale due to congressional pressure and the fear of alienating the Greek and Armenian lobbies.
- According to the agreement reached between Qatar and Turkey, 36 Qatari jets and 250 military personnel would be stationed in Turkey for five years
Turkey’shortlists’ Rafale fighters for its air force, despite the fact that the US Congress is unlikely to approve F-16 sales. According to a press release issued by the Turkish Directorate of Communications on July 16, President Erdogan spoke with President Macron about a variety of issues, including grain exports from Ukraine and a joint defence programme with France and Italy based on Eurosam’s SAMP/T air-defense missile system.
However, the Rafale fighter jets were not mentioned in the press release.
Shortly after the news of the two Presidents’ conversation broke, a prominent Turkish military commentator, Retired Lieutenant General Dr. Erdoan Karakuş, appeared on a panel discussion hosted by ‘A Haber,’ a Turkish national TV channel, and suggested that President Erdogan discussed Rafales with his French counterpart.
According to Karakuş, Turkey is considering acquiring French Rafales in the event that the US rejects Turkey’s request for 40 US F-16 Viper jets and 80 old-generation F-16C/D jets. While US President Joe Biden supports the sale of the fighter jets, American lawmakers are opposed to it.
US May Reject Turkey’s Request For F-16s
The US House of Representatives passed legislation two days before the phone call between the Turkish and French presidents prohibiting the US administration from selling or transferring F-16 fighter jets to Turkey unless the administration certifies that doing so is critical to US national security and takes strong measures to ensure that the fighter jets are not used for “unauthorised overflights” of Greece.
According to Karakuş, Biden is unable to approve the sale due to congressional pressure and the fear of alienating the Greek and Armenian lobbies. “Does he (President Biden) really want to give Turkey F-16s?” “He’s not interested,” Karakuş stated.
“Congress did not approve,” Karakuş said, adding that he drew that conclusion from Erdoan’s meeting with Macron. I believe Turkey has begun to investigate Rafale planes as well.”
Can France Sell Rafales To Both Greece & Turkey?
Tensions between Turkey and Greece have prompted both countries to seek foreign assistance to strengthen their respective military forces. If Karakuş’ assertions are correct, it appears that France is looking to benefit from both sides.
France has already agreed to supply 24 Rafale fighter jets to Greece, with six already delivered in January 2022.
To counter the threat posed by the Hellenic Air Force’s fleet of Rafales, Turkey reportedly decided to train its fighter pilots on Qatar Emiri Air Force (QeAF) Rafale fighter jets so that Turkish fighter pilots would be familiar with the platform and its capabilities, according to a previous EurAsian Times report.
Watch: Greece gets Rafale aircraft from France; Greek priest bless jets & the pilots, in a ceremony similar to “Shastra Puja” performed by Indian Defence minister @DefenceMinIndia Rajnath Singh in 2019. pic.twitter.com/0Z6kHBHpjM
— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) January 20, 2022
According to the agreement reached between Qatar and Turkey, 36 Qatari jets and 250 military personnel would be stationed in Turkey for five years, with the option of an additional year.
Rafales Preferable For Turkey Over F-16s
Ankara would be better off purchasing 4.5 generation Rafale fighter jets rather than 3.5 generation F-16s with 4th generation capabilities. Furthermore, Rafales are nuclear-capable fighters with semi-stealth technology, a capability lacking in Turkey’s current F-16 fleet, according to an expert speaking to EurAsian Times.
As a result, Rafales may be preferable for Turkey, especially given that Greece has already requested a squadron of fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jets from the United States.
Turkey was also a participant in the F-35 Program, but it was later cancelled due to Ankara’s decision to purchase the Russian S-400 air defence system.
Meanwhile, Iraq is reportedly considering purchasing 14 French Rafale fighter planes to counter Turkish F-16 fighter planes that regularly participate in Turkish military operations targeting Kurdish militant groups hiding in northern Iraq.
According to a recent EurAsian Times report, France is likely to be willing to sell Rafales to Iraq, in which case the French-made warplanes could serve as interceptors for the Iraqi Air Force to combat Turkish aircraft, potentially interfering with Turkish counter-insurgency operations.
In addition to Rafale, Turkey is interested in the Eurofighter Typhoon, a 4++ generation fighter jet. Hasan Küçükakyüz, Chief of Staff of the Turkish Air Force, visited the United Kingdom in May and inspected the UK’s Quick Reaction Alert, which operates Typhoon aircraft.