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Part falling from F-4 fighter jet damages 3 automobiles in Ankara

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Three automobiles parked in an open air lot in Ankara were damaged on Monday when a part from an F-4 Phantom fighter jet belonging to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) fell on them, according to a statement from the Turkish Defense Ministry.

Nobody was injured in the incident, which took place in Çankaya. The ministry said the reason the part separated from the aircraft was unknown.

Fire brigades and police teams rushed to the scene after they were notified about the incident, which some bystanders recorded with their mobile phones.

Media reports said the fighter jet’s drop tank, an external fuel tank on an aircraft that can be jettisoned when empty, was the part of the F-4 that fell.

The aircraft, developed by the McDonnell Douglas, made a safe landing after the incident at a military airbase in Eskişehir in central Turkey, according to the ministry.


According to journalist Bülent Aydemir, the aircraft had been brought to Ankara from Eskişehir to be displayed at the Teknofest Aerospace and Technology Festival last week. He said the drop tank got separated from the aircraft in a non-emergency situation.

Aydemir said the lack of sufficient maintenance and the deterioration of some parts of the jet were the cause of the incident since all pilots and military officials know that the age of an aircraft is not a safety factor but that its level of maintenance is.

He said that luckily a disaster was avoided since the drop tank, which fell near residential areas, was empty.

Turkey still flies F-4 Phantoms, which it first acquired in 1974, and will fly them until at least 2030. Former Defense Minister Hulusi Akar announced in November 2021 that the Turkish Air Force (TAF) had extended the service of the F-4 Phantoms to compensate for the country’s removal from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Turkey’s efforts to modernize its air force by acquiring F-35 fighter jets failed after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brokered a deal worth $2.5 billion with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the S-400 missile system in 2017 despite warnings from the United States and other NATO allies.

Turkey started taking delivery of the first S-400s in July 2019 despite Washington’s warnings and the threat of US sanctions. In response, Washington removed Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, in which Ankara was a manufacturer and a buyer.

There are currently some 240 F-16 fighter jets and more than 30 F-4s in the TAF’s inventory.

Under the TAF’s long-term plan, which had relied heavily on the F-35s and Turkey’s indigenous aircraft under the TF-X program, the F-4s would be phased out upon the arrival of the F-35s in the early 2020s, and the first batch of F-16s would be decommissioned with the production of the first TF-Xs in the early 2030s.

Turkey has been using the F-4 as a third generation fighter and interceptor since 1974. Under an agreement with Israel, 54 F-4s were modernized in 1997 and were codenamed F-4E Terminator 2020. Turkey currently has more than 30 F-4E Terminator 2020s in use.

Although many countries including the US, the UK, and Germany have stopped using the F-4, Turkey, like Greece, continues to fly them.

Turkey wants to buy the cheaper F-16s using the $1.4 billion it allotted for the cancelled F-35 deal.

But the sale has been stalled due to objections from the US Congress over Ankara’s refusal to green light to NATO enlargement, its human rights record and its Syria policy, even though the Biden administration has repeatedly said it supports the sale.

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