The Turkish air force has an F-16 fighter pilot shortage due to the fallout from the failed coup attempt, Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for International Affairs Heidi Grant said Wednesday. “They don’t have the air force capacity that they used to,” said Grant, who was with Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein when he visited Incirlik Air Base in August. “So we see a big capability gap there with their pilots.” President Recep Erdogan’s government dismissed 265 pilots following the July overthrow attempt and is working to recruit new ones, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said in August, according to Reuters. Isik said the purge of the military would not disrupt Turkey’s anti-ISIS efforts. US aircraft have supported the country’s recent offensive in Syria. Grant said she sees other partner nations also needing to increase their pilot training in light of the the aviation industry’s effort to close its own gap in staffing and she is working with industry and allies to make that training available. (See also: Pilot Shortage Back With a Vengeance from the August 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.