Turkey, a member of NATO, has been requesting the sale of F-16 fighter fighters built by Lockheed Martin for more than a year. This week, US congressional critics are scheduled to vote on a bipartisan resolution to limit President Joe Biden’s authority to fulfil that demand.
To complete the $20 billion deal with an extra sale of next-generation F-35 warplanes to Ankara’s geopolitical adversary Greece, Democrats are requesting support from a majority of members of Congress.
With the addition of 40 brand-new F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin’s Viper class and 80 modernization kits, Turkey has been aiming to update its current F-16 fleet. But the US Congress blocked the shipments by including a provision that would limit their use because it was concerned about Turkey’s harsh language toward its ally Athens.
Turkiye, a member of NATO, asked for 40 F-16 jets from Lockheed Martin Corp. in October 2021, along with almost 80 modernization kits for its current warplanes. The two parties just finished their technical negotiations.
The Biden administration has stated that it is in favour of the sale and has been in informal contact with Congress for months to get their support. But so far, it has been unable to obtain a green light.
Senator Bob Menendez, the Democratic leader of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement saying, “As I have repeatedly made clear, I strongly oppose the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey.”
Congress is also not expected to accept the sale while it is still under informal assessment because Turkey has not yet ratified Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO.
In May of last year, after years of remaining neutral, the two countries submitted a request to enter NATO in reaction to Russia’s incursion of Ukraine. Turkiye opposed and charged the countries with harbouring militants, including members of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and requested action be taken.
Ibrahim Kalin, the main foreign policy advisor and spokesperson for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, claimed that Washington’s requirements for the fighter aircraft delivery were “endless” during a press conference on Saturday.