ANKARA — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Oct. 17 the United States has proposed the sale of a batch of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey to compensate Turkey’s $1.4 billion investment in the U.S.-led multinational F-35 program.

Turkey committed to buy more than 100 F-35s, but was removed from the program after it decided to purchase the Russian-made S-400 long-range air and anti-missile defense system.

Erdogan has been pressing the Biden administration either to deliver the two F-35s built for the Turkish military or return Turkey’s $1.4 billion payment for the aircraft.

Turkey’s current fleet of more than 200 F-16s will be phased out by 2035. Nearly 100 aircraft in the fleet await upgrades.

Turkey also is struggling to build the TF-X, its first indigenous fighter jet, and is aiming to fly the stealth aircraft in 2025 or 2026.

Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.

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