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Bogeyman 

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How the Menendez scandal could end up with Turkey getting F-16s—and Sweden getting into NATO​



“Menendez being out of the picture is an advantage,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told reporters on September 26. Erdoğan said this just days after Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who is facing federal charges of bribery, announced that he would step down temporarily as Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman.

Even if he does not resign—which many of his Democratic colleagues are now calling for him to do—Menendez’s departure from the powerful position seems to have already set in motion changes for the US-Turkey relationship. Throughout his time as chairman, Menendez was sharply critical of Turkey and more favorable toward pro-Greek and pro-Armenian causes.

What could Menendez’s departure as committee chair change? After all, the basic structure of the US-Turkey relationship remains the same. Turkey is, as it has long been, a strategically important but challenging ally for the United States. Concerns over human rights and democracy in Turkey, as well as over its relations with Russia, are widely shared among US lawmakers, but they are weighed against the country’s positive contributions to NATO (including with the Alliance’s second-largest military, which is conflict tested), its support for Ukraine, its pivotal position for regional energy security, and more.

This balanced spirit was encapsulated in a letter signed by a bipartisan group of twenty-seven senators in February. Addressed to US President Joe Biden, the letter stated the lawmakers’ opposition to the sale of F-16 fighter jets for as long as Turkey held up Sweden’s (and at that time Finland’s) accession to NATO. While it was not stated outright in the letter, a clear implication was that Turkey’s removal of this obstacle could pave the way for the United States to approve the sale of the aircraft.

Menendez was notably not among the letter’s signatories.

"Since negotiations on Sweden’s accession began, it’s been widely assumed—but not openly stated—that the sale of F-16s would be a decisive factor in Turkey’s calculus."

Menendez’s departure means a potential change because as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he held an effective veto over foreign arms sales, and he signaled his opposition to the sale of F-16s to Turkey early and often. He maintained this position even after the breakthrough at July’s NATO Summit in Vilnius, where Erdoğan indicated that he would send the ratification of Sweden’s accession to parliament. Asked after the NATO Summit about the issue, Menendez cited as a concern that Turkey’s parliament had not yet ratified Sweden’s NATO accession, but he also listed other grievances, including Turkey’s disputes with Greece. He appeared unwilling to budge on the issue, his reasons seemingly marshaled to justify a decision that had already been made.

Menendez’s departure as chair does not guarantee that the United States will now sell Turkey F-16s, but it does open space for a fresh look at the apparent deal on the table. Since negotiations on Sweden’s accession began, it’s been widely assumed—but not openly stated—that the sale of F-16s would be a decisive factor in Turkey’s calculus. For a year, diplomats on both sides took pains to deny the two issues were linked. However, Erdoğan abandoned all pretext on September 26, stating that “if they [the United States] keep their promises, our parliament will keep its own promise as well.” In a statement at the Vilnius summit, Turkey has committed to sending Sweden’s accession to parliament and working to ensure its ratification.

This apparent recognition that the F-16 sale and Sweden’s NATO accession vote in Turkey’s parliament are linked is a positive step. The risk now is that questions of sequencing or other issues devolve into a standoff in which Turkey is waiting for movement from Congress, while Congress waits for movement from Turkey’s parliament.

If Turkey cannot secure F-16s and instead looks to source its jets elsewhere, then the United States and Turkey could face a broader rupture in defense ties that may last a generation or more.​


“I think it’s more likely it’s going to be approved,” explained House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) on September 27 about a possible deal on F-16s. But, he added, “We’re saying we’re not going to consider this if you’re going to play hardball against Sweden.” On September 28, new Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-MD) said that he still had to talk to the Biden administration about the F-16 deal, “but there are other issues in addition to just NATO accession” that need to be resolved. The White House has been notably silent on the issue since Menendez’s departure. Nor did Biden meet with Erdoğan earlier in September at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, following a pattern of minimizing leader-to-leader contact with the Turkish president compared with previous administrations.

Time is running out. Turkey’s parliament returned from recess this week, and the longer the situation goes without progress, the more paralyzed and corrosive it could become. The Biden administration, through its diplomats and its outreach to Congress, should work diligently to overcome this dilemma.

Beyond the singular issue of Sweden’s accession—which has been awaiting final ratification from Turkey and Hungary for more than a year—the F-16 deal holds strategic importance for the US-Turkey relationship. Defense cooperation has traditionally been a main cornerstone of bilateral relations between the United States and Turkey. That cooperation, however, has been damaged at the strategic level by disagreements over policy toward Syria and imperiled further by Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air-defense system in 2017. The United States responded to the purchase by removing Turkey from the F-35 program in 2019 and imposing sanctions on Ankara in 2020. If Turkey cannot secure F-16s and instead looks to source its jets elsewhere, then the United States and Turkey could face a broader rupture in defense ties that may last a generation or more. Such an outcome would not be in the strategic interests of Turkey or the United States.

 

Heartbang

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Let's buy a couple just to study even, especially mig 29
Nah, mig-29 were dead meat 15 years ago. Mig-31's are where the study potential lies at.
Russians are sniping Ukrainian aircraft from 150-200 km with Mig-31's as we speak.
(although on 2nd look, any kind of reverse engineering looks impossible, because:
"according to the requirements of the tender, the sale of old aircraft is carried out on condition of its disposal on the territory of the military units of the Air Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan.")
 

Deliorman

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If those planes are even worth anything then why is Kazakhstan getting rid of them? Can't they modernize them and use them for their Air Force if they are any good?
 

Bogeyman 

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If those planes are even worth anything then why is Kazakhstan getting rid of them? Can't they modernize them and use them for their Air Force if they are any good?
The published reports state that these “evaluated assets are no longer fit for use due to moral obsolescence, and it is not economically feasible to modernize them.” The documents make it clear that these “assets must be liquidated by means of disposal at the balance holder’s site.” Furthermore, it is stated that, “Given the technical condition and uniqueness of the evaluated assets, their use for other purposes, including as a source of spare parts, is not feasible.”

Because they sell their scrap
 

Zafer

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Nah, mig-29 were dead meat 15 years ago. Mig-31's are where the study potential lies at.
Russians are sniping Ukrainian aircraft from 150-200 km with Mig-31's as we speak.
(although on 2nd look, any kind of reverse engineering looks impossible, because:
"according to the requirements of the tender, the sale of old aircraft is carried out on condition of its disposal on the territory of the military units of the Air Defense Forces of the Armed Forces of Kazakhstan.")
So, are they only good for metal recycling. Türkiye is big in recycling.
 

Bogeyman 

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Regional passenger aircraft project from Turkish aviation company

UÇAKSAN has designed an aircraft that has a capacity of 19 people and can undertake roles such as fire fighting, cargo and military transportation.

The Turkish aviation company, which developed the training and general purpose aircraft TROY T400, this time designed a regional passenger aircraft.
UÇAKSAN implemented the Dragut Project to develop a wide-body regional passenger aircraft. The project aimed to create a wide-body aircraft with low maintenance costs, affordable fuel consumption.

In this context, an aircraft with a capacity of 19 people was designed for passenger transportation duty. In addition to this mission, the aircraft was planned to undertake roles such as firefighting, cargo and military transportation.

The regional passenger plane is expected to have a wingspan of 15.33 meters, a height of 4.58 meters and a wing area of 25 square meters.

The aircraft will have a maximum take-off weight of 7,700 kilograms and can carry 3,700 kilograms of cargo. The aircraft, which has a maximum speed of 480 kilometers per hour and a cruising speed of 420 kilometers, will be able to operate with a range of 2,200 kilometers.

Efforts that started with a 2-seater plane gradually grew

UÇAKSAN Senior Manager Emre Balcı, in his statement to AA correspondent, said that they have been operating in the field of general aviation since 2018.

KASIM%202023%2FUCAK3.jpg


Stating that they first started with the design and production of the 2-seater training aircraft project, Balcı stated that they turned this aircraft into a 4-seater in the following stages.

Explaining that they later developed unmanned cargo planes, Balcı stated that these vehicles made successful flights.

Stating that they started design work on a 19-seater passenger plane 2 years ago, Balcı said:

"Our aircraft was designed with a wider body than its counterparts. Our goal was to fill the gap in the regional aircraft sector with a domestic aircraft. In addition to passenger aircraft, our aircraft can be used as a cargo plane, fire plane, ambulance plane and military plane. Preliminary concept designs of the project have been completed. Detailed designs will be started. The first prototype has started. "We expect it to be released within 4 years from its date. It was planned to start in partnership with an aviation company 2 years ago. The project had to be frozen because the other company gave up. We plan to revive the project again if we provide the investment budget."

KASIM%202023%2FUCAK1.jpg


 

Fuzuli NL

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thumbs_b_c_3946340890090a8b4c4e7f8a8f0eb0bc.jpg


Regional passenger aircraft project from Turkish aviation company

UÇAKSAN has designed an aircraft that has a capacity of 19 people and can undertake roles such as fire fighting, cargo and military transportation.

The Turkish aviation company, which developed the training and general purpose aircraft TROY T400, this time designed a regional passenger aircraft.
UÇAKSAN implemented the Dragut Project to develop a wide-body regional passenger aircraft. The project aimed to create a wide-body aircraft with low maintenance costs, affordable fuel consumption.

In this context, an aircraft with a capacity of 19 people was designed for passenger transportation duty. In addition to this mission, the aircraft was planned to undertake roles such as firefighting, cargo and military transportation.

The regional passenger plane is expected to have a wingspan of 15.33 meters, a height of 4.58 meters and a wing area of 25 square meters.

The aircraft will have a maximum take-off weight of 7,700 kilograms and can carry 3,700 kilograms of cargo. The aircraft, which has a maximum speed of 480 kilometers per hour and a cruising speed of 420 kilometers, will be able to operate with a range of 2,200 kilometers.

Efforts that started with a 2-seater plane gradually grew

UÇAKSAN Senior Manager Emre Balcı, in his statement to AA correspondent, said that they have been operating in the field of general aviation since 2018.

KASIM%202023%2FUCAK3.jpg


Stating that they first started with the design and production of the 2-seater training aircraft project, Balcı stated that they turned this aircraft into a 4-seater in the following stages.

Explaining that they later developed unmanned cargo planes, Balcı stated that these vehicles made successful flights.

Stating that they started design work on a 19-seater passenger plane 2 years ago, Balcı said:

"Our aircraft was designed with a wider body than its counterparts. Our goal was to fill the gap in the regional aircraft sector with a domestic aircraft. In addition to passenger aircraft, our aircraft can be used as a cargo plane, fire plane, ambulance plane and military plane. Preliminary concept designs of the project have been completed. Detailed designs will be started. The first prototype has started. "We expect it to be released within 4 years from its date. It was planned to start in partnership with an aviation company 2 years ago. The project had to be frozen because the other company gave up. We plan to revive the project again if we provide the investment budget."

KASIM%202023%2FUCAK1.jpg


Reminds me of the Hava Dolmusu HD-19 project that was being discussed in the 90s or early 00s
 

Ripley

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Reminds me of the Hava Dolmusu HD-19 project that was being discussed in the 90s or early 00s
Spot on bro

HD-19 (Hava Dolmusu 19; Air Taxi 19) is a cancelled civil regional passenger airplane project of TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries). It was commenced in mid90's with the aim of providing a cost effective regional passenger aircraft to fulfill domestic and international market needs. Preliminary design studies had been completed but project cancelled due to lack of budget, will and market shrink.”

the quoted piece by Orko 8


IMG_0586.jpeg


Over the last three decades things have changed dramatically.
Now even a private company can afford to venture into passenger aircraft design.
What surprises me though, every now and then this twin engined small regional passenger idea is revisited. It’s small but does it make it viable or a better choice for hopping short hauls between cities?
 

Sanchez

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I said in the past that I don’t think this kind of venture was smart for TAI and it would pull too many resources. For an up and coming company like Uçaksan tho, it makes perfect sense. Love it.
 

Ripley

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I said in the past that I don’t think this kind of venture was smart for TAI and it would pull too many resources. For an up and coming company like Uçaksan tho, it makes perfect sense. Love it.
Absolutely. With the level Turkish aviation industry as a whole reached today, it only makes sense.
Also, if I’m not mistaken, back in the day THY (Turkish Airlines) and its subsidiaries were destined to be the designated operator(s) of the HD-19. But THY was not enthusiastic about the whole thing. Maybe that’s what Orko was partially or completely referring to when he said unwillingness for the project.
 

BaburKhan

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What would be the point for Turkiye to have bombers when they already use UAV’s for that matter ? Also developing and maintaining bombers would be too costly.

They are already starting to use Akinci for Air-to-Ground missions. Later when Kizilelma will be ready they will progressively start to phase out the F-16’s for that role.

There is also a stealth bomber currently in development by TAI called TISU.
You can not compare UCAV like Akinci and Kizilelma with a strategic Bomber. They are foreseen for different Tasks. Bombers you need to strike Targets far away from Homeland.

You need for example Ten Kizilelma with two SOM-J Inside, the similar Attack can Performance only One strategic Bomber.

This will be usefull for Turkey in Future to protect it's interest in arabian Sea/Indian Ocean or in Areas like the Straight oof Gibraltar.
 

Huelague

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I said in the past that I don’t think this kind of venture was smart for TAI and it would pull too many resources. For an up and coming company like Uçaksan tho, it makes perfect sense. Love it.
After 5 years. TAI will start civil passenger aircraft program.
 

Ripley

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After 5 years. TAI will start civil passenger aircraft program.
True. But it’s gonna be a legit short to medium range commercial jet airliner, not a very small twin turboprop plane for short hauls. Mr. Kotil has mentioned about this projects many times.
 

moz68k

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Hearing TAI talk about this commercial passenger aircraft (that isn't a helicopter) worries me. I think competing in the commercial civil aviation sector against the Airbus-Boeing duopoly is a fool's game. Canadian, Russian, and Chinese (state) firms either almost or literally bankrupted themselves in their attempts.

It's like trying to build a new car brand that only builds ICE vehicles. Chinese brands were never able to build a decent ICE car, but they're on their way to become major players in the EV market. The only time TAI should even consider building a commercial civil passenger aircraft is when a massive paradigm shift occurs in the market, as was the case for the automotive sector. Or the raising of twin-engine ETOPS ranges, saving the perfectly-timed A300.

For instance, the Comac C919 now costs just slightly less than the A320neo or B737 MAX, has less range, is less efficient, doesn't have the planned composite wing, and is filled to the brim with critical western components. China can afford such a project, we cannot. CR929, SSJ, and MC-21 are even more problematic. As for the existing legitimate smaller players: Bombardier divested from the commercial civil aviation sector, and Embraer is struggling to shift E2s (now competing with Airbus).

Besides ongoing projects, I would personally like to see TAI focus on:

- Navalization. Especially in developing a modern Seahawk alternative that massively undercuts Sikorsky.
- Larger military transport jets (JV preferably with Embraer, or at least Antonov). Gain experience with larger jets.
- Following innovations in the sector like CFM's RISE or RR's UltraFan. Anticipate and prototype a next-generation commercial passenger aircraft, try to enter the market only then, and only if financially viable.
- Invest even more heavily in composite aerostructures, become (more) indispensable to the commercial and military aviation supply chain.

I would love to see Turkish Airlines fly a TAI airliner, but the financial and human resource health of TAI should be prioritized over national pride. Overextending ourselves is a recipe for failure.
 
Last edited:

I_Love_F16

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Hearing TAI talk about this commercial passenger aircraft (that isn't a helicopter) worries me. I think competing in the commercial civil aviation sector against the Airbus-Boeing duopoly is a fool's game. Canadian, Russian, and Chinese (state) firms either almost or literally bankrupted themselves in their attempts.

It's like trying to build a new car brand that only builds ICE vehicles. Chinese brands were never able to build a decent ICE car, but they're on their way to become major players in the EV market. The only time TAI should even consider building a commercial civil passenger aircraft is when a massive paradigm shift occurs in the market, as was the case for the automotive sector.

For instance, the Comac C919 now costs just slightly less than the A320neo or B737 MAX, has less range, is less efficient, doesn't have the planned composite wing, and is filled to the brim with critical western components. China can afford such a project, we cannot. CR929, SSJ, and MC-21 are even more problematic. As for the existing legitimate smaller players: Bombardier divested from the commercial civil aviation sector, and Embraer is struggling to shift E2s (now competing with Airbus).

Besides ongoing projects, I would personally like to see TAI focus on:

- Navalization. Especially in developing a modern Seahawk alternative that massively undercuts Sikorsky.
- Larger military transport jets (JV preferably with Embraer, or at least Antonov)
- Following innovations in the sector like CFM's RISE or RR's UltraFan. Anticipate and prototype a next-generation commercial passenger aircraft, try to enter the market only then, and only if financially viable.
- Invest even more heavily in composite aerostructures, become (more) indispensable to the commercial and military aviation supply chain.

I would love to see Turkish Airlines fly a TAI airliner, but the financial and human resource health of TAI should be prioritized over national pride. Overextending ourselves is a recipe for failure.

Spot on.
 

Spitfire9

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Menendez’s departure as chair does not guarantee that the United States will now sell Turkey F-16s, but it does open space for a fresh look at the apparent deal on the table. Since negotiations on Sweden’s accession began, it’s been widely assumed—but not openly stated—that the sale of F-16s would be a decisive factor in Turkey’s calculus. For a year, diplomats on both sides took pains to deny the two issues were linked. However, Erdoğan abandoned all pretext on September 26, stating that “if they [the United States] keep their promises, our parliament will keep its own promise as well.” In a statement at the Vilnius summit, Turkey has committed to sending Sweden’s accession to parliament and working to ensure its ratification.

If Turkiye does not approve Sweden joining NATO, it will not get an F-16 deal. If it does, a deal may still not get approved by the US Congress. However, I remember reading that if Congress blocks a proposal by the president, that can be challenged. If I remember correctly, 2/3 of the members (perhaps just the senators?) would have to be opposed to the president's proposal in order to defeat it. On that basis I guess the F-16 deal would probably go through. There are other issues apart from Sweden involved, so nothing is certain.
 

boredaf

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Navalization. Especially in developing a modern Seahawk alternative that massively undercuts Sikorsky.
- Larger military transport jets (JV preferably with Embraer, or at least Antonov). Gain experience with larger jets.
I think these two points are extremely crucial for our military aviation. A large military transport plane that we can configure for other purposes, like maritime patrol or AEW&C or even a bomber for our larger missiles, would be indispensable for us.

And being able to produce our own naval helicopters would not only get rid of one of our worst dependencies but also open up a significant market for us.
 
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