Latest Developments of U.S. Potential Sale of F-16s to Turkey

The discussions in Congress after the meeting between the U.S. President, Joe Biden, and Turkish President Erdogan at the NATO Leaders' Summit in Madrid, when President Biden declared, "We must sell F-16s to Turkey," are still ongoing.

Jim Inhofe, a U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee ranking member, stated, "I support ongoing discussions. It's in the best interest of the U.S. and NATO to keep Turkey in the fold and drive a wedge between Turkey and Russia."

Democrat Senator Shaheen, Foreign Affairs Committee Member, said, "Turkey remains a valuable ally and a critical regional security partner for the United States and NATO. I remain committed to maintaining the already robust bilateral security relationship between our two countries. The F16 upgrade package submitted by the Biden administration - like any foreign arms sale - will ultimately have to go through a comprehensive review by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to ensure that the deal will benefit our joint security interests. As a member of that committee, I will work with the committee and ask questions of the administration to thoroughly review their request." 

Republican Congressman Chris Smith, a House Foreign Affairs Committee Member, stated that sellingF-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to Turkey is an egregious mistake and would go against CAATSA.

Democrat Congresswoman Titus led members of the Hellenic Caucus in reaction to Biden Administration's statement regarding F-16 Sales to Turkey. Her joint statement with five of her colleagues said thatWhile Turkey's relenting on their opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO is a welcome development, there are still too many outstanding issues to move forward with the sale of F-16s to Erdoğan's government."

While Senator Graham (R-SC), who visited Ankara recently, stated that President Biden supports the delivery of F-16s to Turkey, many other Senate Foreign Affairs Committee members will wait for the Biden administration's facts about the potential sale to Turkey and then will make a decision. 

Gregory Meeks, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and four delegate members are currently visiting Turkey after a visit to Greece. The U.S. delegation includes House Foreign Affairs Committee Members Ted Deutch, David Cicilline, G.K. Butterfield, and Stacy Plaskett. 

35 House Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden opposing the proposed Sale of F-16 Fighter Jets to Turkey yesterday.

Biden administration's support for Turkey continues.

While White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, "We've been very clear about the F-16. That conversation about the F-16 and Turkey has been around for some time. We talked about this several months ago. So there's nothing new. The president has supported that effort," 

"The United States supports Turkey's modernization of its fighter fleet because that is a contribution to NATO security and therefore American security," said Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, on a press call.

Regarding Turkey's demand for F-16s, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Jones, said: at the Foreign Press Center briefing "We support the sale, and President Biden has said that he is willing to work with Congress on this matter."

In September of last year, Turkey requested the purchase of 40 F16 fighter aircraft and nearly 80 F-16 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. 

The U.S. Department of State noted in a letter sent to Congress in March that “The Administration believes that there are nonetheless compelling long-term NATO alliance unity and capability interests, as well as U.S. national security, economic and commercial interests that are supported by appropriate U.S. defense trade ties with Turkey,”

It is not clear when Biden will meet with members of Congress on the F-16 issue; however, a delegation from the Grand National Assembly of Turkey is expected to come to Washington DC to meet with their U.S. counterparts shortly.

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