Turkey says US F-16 deal likely to be sealed next month
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief foreign policy advisor Ibrahim Kalin said Turkey’s F-16 deal with the United States could be sealed by mid-December.
“It is difficult to give an exact date, but it seems likely that the process would be completed in early or mid-December,” Kalin told CNN Turk during a live broadcast on Thursday.
“The process has not yet been completed 100 percent, but it is progressing well,” Kalin said.
Last year, Turkey made an official request to buy 40 F-16s and some 80 modernization kits for its existing fleet, after Washington excluded it from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program over its acquisition of Russian S-400 air defense missiles in 2019.
While the President Joe Biden said the US administration supports the sale of the aircraft to Ankara, a possible deal needs approval from the Congress.
The US House of Representatives in July adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to restrict the ability of Washington to sell the weaponry to Turkey, unless the Biden administration “certifies that doing so is essential to U.S. national security” and so long as Turkey does not make unauthorised overflights of Greece with the new planes.
However, the amendment restricting the sale of F-16s to Turkey has been dropped from the Senate version of the annual US defense spending bill in October.
There were some amendments in the NDAA that were not acceptable by Turkey, but they have been removed from the bill, Kalin said.
“The Biden administration is making a sincere effort in this regard,” he said.
Democratic congressman Menendez on the other hand, who has the power to stymie the transfer of fighter jets to Turkey said he would not approve any sales to Turkey until President Erdogan “halts his campaign of aggression across the region.”
“An NDAA amendment is only one tool at our disposal to advance US. interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. Let me be clear: as #SFRC Chairman, I will not approve any F-16 case for Turkey until Erdogan halts his campaign of aggression across the region. Full stop,” Menendez said via Twitter, just a day after the restrictions over the sale of the aircraft to Ankara were dropped from the annual US defense spending bill.
An #NDAA amendment is only one tool at our disposal to advance US interests in the Eastern Med.— Senate Foreign Relations Committee (@SFRCdems) October 12, 2022
Let me be clear: as #SFRC Chairman, I will not approve any F-16 case for Turkey until Erdogan halts his campaign of aggression across the region. Full stop. https://t.co/lMkKaMatuN
Kalin said a new political structure will emerge after the US mid-term elections scheduled for Nov.8, and the chairmen of the commissions will also change.
During the mid-term elections, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 out of 100 seats in the Senate will be contested.