Türkiye is reportedly considering the JF-17 Thunder (FC-1) jointly developed by China and Pakistan.

Türkiye, a major country in NATO, has made efforts to upgrade its fighter fleet in recent years and the US-made F-16 is at the top of the list. However, the relationship between Türkiye and the US is constantly fluctuating, leading to Washington disagreeing with Ankara’s defense procurement intentions. Faced with the above situation, President Erdogan tried to turn to Europe with the desire to access Typhoon fighter jets, but they immediately encountered fierce resistance from Germany. Driven by desperation, Türkiye is reportedly considering the JF-17 Thunder (FC-1) jointly developed by China and Pakistan.

If Türkiye comes to this decision, the latest FC-1 Fierce Dragon Block 3 will be a promising choice. It is worth noting that this jet is classified as a 4++ generation fighter. Many analysts commented that Türkiye – a key member of NATO – brought a different dynamic to the negotiating table. Recent years have seen tense relations between Ankara and its partners in the North Atlantic Military Alliance, especially the United States.

The friction intensified when the U.S. ejected Turkey from the global cooperation initiative on the F-35 stealth fighter. This move was a direct retaliation against Turkey’s decision to procure the Russian S-400 air defense systems. Reports indicate that Turkey has plans to purchase 40 Typhoon fighter jets, however, the decision faces opposition from Germany. Many speculate that this opposition is somehow influenced by the United States.

Foreign media said that the optimal choice for Türkiye could be the Russian Su-35 fighter. Such a step could have significant consequences, increasing tensions in the Washington – Ankara (NATO) relationship. In such a context, the JF-17 Thunder could be the next candidate with Türkiye’s procurement plan. The Chinese fighter is not only competitively priced but also shows exceptional technical compatibility with Western electronics. Moreover, when outfitted with active electronically scanned array radars and PL-10 air-to-air missiles, the JF-17 Thunder delivers a combat performance on par with Western 4++ generation fighters.

If Turkey is successful in acquiring 40 JF-17 Thunder Block 3, it wouldn’t just be the first instance of a Chinese-designed fighter making its way into a significant NATO country. It would also represent a substantial and high-value transaction. Some analysts turned their attention to the HQ-9 anti-aircraft missile incident that occurred about a decade ago. At that time, Türkiye used the purchase of HQ-9 as negotiating leverage, playing the “China card” to buy the Patriot from the United States. Recently, some media said that Turkey could use the previous strategy of using the JF-17 as a strategy to force the US and Europe to open up fighter sales.

Clearly, the JF-17, even in its latest Block 3 version, is still no match for the J-10CE, and is even larger when placed next to the F-16V and Typhoon. Therefore, there is a high possibility that this is another trap set by Ankara. Industry experts generally agree that Turkey’s main motive behind declaring interest in Chinese fighter jets may be to pressure the United States into making concessions.

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