US Senators set obstacles for sale of F-16s to Turkey
Two different amendments filed by US senators set new hurdles for the Turkish government to buy new F-16 fighter jets and modernization for its existing fleet from the United States.
The first block came on Friday by US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez who has introduced an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would stop the sale of F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits to Turkey.
The amendment requires the US President “to ensure that the F-16s are not used by Turkey for repeated unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece.”
After a similar amendment introduced by Rep. Chris Pappas passed in the US House of Representatives in July, members of the Turkish government hoped the Senators would make the necessary adjustment to allow the sale of the fighter jets.
The second hedge was set on Saturday by Senator Chris Van Hollen who has filed another amendment which ties the sale of the F-16 jets to ratification of Sweden and Finland’s NATO bid by Turkey.
According to Greece’s ERT, the amendment specifically requires that President Biden cannot sell or authorize the export of new F-16 aircraft or F-16 upgrade technology or modernization kits to Turkey prior to the date that Turkey ratifies the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO.
On Friday, a government delegation visiting the U.S. capital said that congressional members were "positive" during talks for the sale and modernization of F-16 fighter jets.
"As in the meetings of our President with some members of Congress in New York, the members of Congress we met here gave positive messages regarding the modernization of our country's F-16 fleet," said Efkan Ala, Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair responsible for foreign affairs.
After Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 defense systems in 2019, Washington excluded Turkey from a F-35 stealth fighter jet programme. Instead, Turkey made an official request to buy 40 F-16s and some 80 modernization kits for its existing fleet last year.