Biden to ask US Congress to approve F-16 sale to Turkey

Biden to ask US Congress to approve F-16 sale to Turkey
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The Biden administration informally notified the US Congress its intention to sell Turkey 40 new F-16 fighter jets and 79 modernization kits for its existing fleet, but it is still far from securing a green light

The Biden administration has told Congress it is preparing the potential $20 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, Wall Street Journal reported, but a senior U.S. lawmaker who has long opposed the deal said he still objected to the sale.

The State Department informed the committees overseeing arms sales in the Senate and House of Representatives of its intention to proceed with the proposed deal, after months of informal efforts in the Congress 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.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the deal to sell fighter planes would be contingent on Turkey allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO, a move Ankara has opposed since the two countries applied for membership last year.

It’s unclear if Turkey paving the way for their accession would lead Menendez to drop his opposition to the agreement.

The sale to Turkey includes 40 new aircraft and kits to overhaul 79 of Turkey’s existing F-16 fleet, according to officials familiar with the proposals.

The sale to Turkey also includes more than 900 air-to-air missiles and 800 bombs, one of the officials said

Congressional notification of the deal will roughly coincide with a visit to Washington next week by Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu.

Under U.S. arms-export laws, Congress will have 30 days to review the deal. If Congress wants to block the deal it must pass a joint resolution of disapproval. Congress can also pass legislation to block or modify a sale at any time until the delivery.