The US administration agreed in principle almost two months ago for the transfer of information over software source codes of US Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters to Turkey.
Once the agreement is completed, and if approved by the US Congress, Turkey will have the capability to automatically modify the software source codes of the fighters’ weapons systems with national software source codes, said US sources who asked not to be named.Turkey will become the first nation among 26 to have the F-16s in their inventories and have the ability to receive information on the F-16 fighters’ software source codes -- primarily their weapons systems -- thereby enabling it to replace them with national software source codes whenever necessary.
Once Turkey and the US complete around 50 pages of technical details over the nature of the US transfer of technology, an agreement should be signed, pending US congressional approval.
The US Congress has long prevented arms transfers to NATO member Turkey, mainly in reaction to its strained ties with Israel.
However, the US administration has as of late sought US congressional authorization for the sale of three AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters to Turkey. This indicates a softening on the part of the congress toward Turkey.
Turkey has a long-standing request for Super Cobras. It has a shortage of these helicopters, required in its ongoing fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) terrorists, who have increased their violent attacks as of late.
Meanwhile, it is not clear whether the US administration will seek US congressional authorization for another long-standing Turkish request for the sale of four Predator unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and two armed Reaper UAVs.
However, some of the weapons, including Predators that the US reportedly pledged to transfer to Turkey as it withdraws from Iraq in December of this year, are said to not be subject to the approval of the US Congress. These are weapons the US used during its war in Iraq.
Missile defense link
US sources stated that Washington has agreed in principle to transfer the information mainly concerning the weapon systems of the F-16s so that Turkey can integrate by itself the national software source codes because Turkey has pursued a very persistent policy on the matter.
However, Turkey’s approval to deploy a radar system of the US-supported NATO Missile Defense System on its soil is understood to have played an important role in Washington’s agreement to in principle transfer the software source codes of mainly the weapons systems of the F-16s to Turkey. Turkey agreed last month to host a powerful US-supplied radar system to act as advanced eyes for a layered shield against ballistic missiles coming from outside Europe.
The AN/TPY-2 surveillance radar in Turkey will boost the shield’s capability against Iran, which Washington alleges is seeking to build nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
“By agreeing to transfer information on F-16 weapon systems so that Turkey could automatically integrate them with national software source codes, the US sought to ease tensions with its NATO ally, which is important in safeguarding US interests in the Middle East. The US also puts strong emphasis on seeing Turkish-Israeli relations normalize,” said the US source.
50 weapons systems on each F-16
Lockheed Martin this year began supplying Turkey with 14 F-16C variants and 16 F-16Ds under a deal signed in May 2007. The total cost of 30 additional F-16s to Turkey is $1.78 billion.
Under a separate agreement signed in April 2005 between Turkey and the US, 213 Turkish F-16s are being upgraded at a cost of $1.1 billion at the Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in Ankara. Turkey will be able to change the software source codes of the weapons systems on a total of 204 F-16s with national software source codes if a final agreement is reached with the US.
There are 50 different types of weapons systems on each F-16 that are classified.