Turkey aims to boost domestic missile range, President pledges
Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the Turkish-made Bayraktar will be able to carry F-16 bombs.
Citing ongoing crises around the world, Turkey's president said on Saturday that his country has not only survived but is also moving forward, aiming to increase the range of its domestic missile from 565 kilometers to 1,000 kilometers.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan said during a visit to the southwestern Mugla province that since he took office in the early 2000s, domestic defense industry production of the nation's arsenal has increased by 20% to 80%. "National matters are above politics, and should remain so. If we have achieved gains in the Mediterranean, the Aegean, and the Black Seas, we must protect this together, without exception," he said.
Commenting on Turkey's production of its own unmanned drones and combat drones, Erdogan underlined the aerial combat vehicle Bayraktar Kizilelma "will carry the bomb carried by the F-16 after it starts mass production. What do the Greeks have to say now? What are those Crazy Turks up to?"
In December, Turkish defense firm Baykar held the maiden flight of the Bayraktar Kizilelma, or Red Apple.
Read next: Erdogan: Turkey will take care of itself if US doesn't send F-16 jets
The Kizilelma will be able to perform the most difficult missions thanks to its low-radar signature. It will also be capable of carrying a payload of up to 1,500 kilograms, as well as having high situational awareness thanks to the active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, which was also developed in Turkey.
Erdogan stated that domestic missile testing is ongoing and that such tests are "scaring" Greece, highlighting tests from the coastal city of Izmir, near Greek islands in the Aegean. "Tests are being carried out from Izmir, and a missile that might be launched from there begins to scare them,” said the president.
“I say, 'O Greek, we have no business with you as long as you behave yourself. Just behave yourself’.”
Erdogan stressed that Turkey's defense industry is growing stronger and that terrorist groups are being "crushed."
On a related note, the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, US Senator Bob Menendez, vowed yesterday to block a proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey unless Ankara "adjusts its behavior" to suit Washington’s interests.
“I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Menendez said in a statement.
Multiple outlets reported early on Friday that the US government is considering selling Turkey 40 of the American-manufactured F-16s for $20 billion.
However, the US legislature's leading foreign affairs official pledged to block the deal, accusing Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of attempting to "undermine international law, disregard human rights and democratic norms, and engage in alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and against neighboring NATO allies."