US Congress greenlights $259 million deal for Turkey's F-16 software upgrade

US Congress greenlights $259 million deal for Turkey's F-16 software upgrade
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The US Congress has given the green light for a $259 million deal to sell software upgrades to Turkey for its existing fleet of F-16s. But a larger agreement concerning Turkey's request to buy billions of dollars’ worth of F-16s remains in limbo.

The US President Joe Biden’s administration has informed Congress of a proposed deal to sell avionics software upgrades worth up to $259 million to Turkey for its current fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft, marking the first major military sale to Turkey approved by Congress in years.

Leaders of U.S. congressional committees have given informal approval for the deal, which seeks to modernize Turkey's aircraft and improve the interoperability between Turkish and NATO systems by updating its communications and enhancing safety measures.

Lockheed Martin Corp will be the principal contractor on the deal, which is separate from Turkey's request to buy billions of dollars' worth of F-16s. The approval of the smaller package is intended to send a "positive signal" to Ankara, according to a source familiar with the deal.

However, the larger agreement remains in limbo as U.S. lawmakers are seeking assurances from Turkey on issues that go beyond the proposed sale, including easing tensions with Greece, refraining from an invasion in northern Syria, and enforcing sanctions against Russia.

Despite these conditions, the deal comes amid signs of easing tensions between Turkey and Greece ahead of Turkish elections next month and Turkey approving Finland's accession to the NATO military alliance.

"The Biden Administration supports Turkey’s efforts to bring the avionics of its F-16 fleet up to standard," a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. "Turkey is a longstanding and valued NATO ally."