| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Top U.S. lawmaker objects to potential F-16 sale to Turkey

According to individuals familiar with the situation, the Biden administration has informed Congress that it is preparing a prospective $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. A prominent U.S. member who has long opposed the trade immediately objected to the news.

According to three sources, the State Department informed the Senate and House of Representatives committees in charge of regulating arms sales on Thursday that it intended to move forward with the proposed agreement.

NATO member Turkey requested in October 2021 to buy 40 Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. Technical talks between the two sides recently concluded.

The Biden administration has said it supports the sale and has been in touch for months with Congress on an informal basis to win its approval. However, it has failed so far to secure a green light.

“As I have repeatedly made clear, I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey,” Senator Bob Menendez, Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement.

While the sale is still in the informal review process, Congress is also unlikely to approve the sale as long as Turkey refuses to proceed with the ratification of Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership.

In reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the two countries renounced their decades-long neutrality last May and asked to join NATO. Turkey opposed and said the countries were harboring militants, including members of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and demanded action.

Ibrahim Kalin, the main foreign policy advisor and spokesperson for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that Washington’s demands for the fighter aircraft delivery were “endless” during a press conference on Saturday.

“That’s not a fair game,” Kalin added, “if they keep pushing Turkey in different areas with F-16 (and) F-35 penalties, and when Turkey reacts, they blame Turkey again.” “They seem to have an infinite list of expectations. Something is always there.”

  • Reuters