Sale of a small modernization package for Turkey's F-16s likely: Report
The United States administration is set to move ahead with the sale of a modernization package for Turkey's existing F-16 fighter jets, after leaders of US congressional committees gave informal approval, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The US State Department could send the formal notification for the smaller sale, which includes radars and avionics, as early as Monday, the sources said.
If it is cleared by Congress during the formal approval process, the package would be the first major military sale to Turkey that Congress has approved for years.
"The United States and Turkey have deep defense and security ties, and Turkey's continued NATO interoperability remains a critical priority," a US State Department spokesperson said, adding that the administration supports Turkey's efforts to modernize its fleet.
The sources, one US official and another familiar with the matter, could not give a precise value for the deal, beyond saying that it would be in the millions of dollars. It follows Turkey approving Finland's accession to the NATO military alliance and signs of easing tensions between Turkey and neighbor Greece ahead of Turkish elections due on May 15.
The package is separate from the proposed $20 billion sale of new F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits that Turkey requested in October 2021.
The smaller package was approved after the administration pushed the lawmakers to approve it to send a "positive signal" to Ankara, one of the sources said.
The approval does not mean the bigger sale will receive a green light from Congress as US lawmakers are seeking assurances from Turkey on issues that go beyond the Nordic NATO expansion, sources added.
The issues include easing tensions with Greece for good, refraining from an invasion in northern Syria and enforcing sanctions against Russia, the sources said.