US says sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkiye would serve NATO, U.S. interests

In a report published on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden’s administration has claimed congressional correspondence that the proposed sale of F-16 fighter planes to Turkiye would promote U.S. interests and strengthen NATO unity.

According to the letter obtained by the news agency, it comes after Turkiye asked Washington in October to sell it 40 F-16 fighter jets and 80 upgrade kits to modernize its existing fleet. In late March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that talks with the United States were progressing positively.

Turkiye was sanctioned by the United States under former President Donald Trump in 2020 after Ankara acquired the powerful Russian S-400 air defence system and was pulled from the F-35 joint strike aircraft programme the year before.

In a letter to Congressman Frank Pallone, Naz Durakoglu, the State Department’s top official for legislative affairs, acknowledged the ongoing tensions over additional arms sales to Turkiye but insisted that the sanctions and removal of the F-35 represent “a significant price paid” for the S-400 acquisition.

“The Administration thinks that there are nonetheless compelling long-term NATO partnership unity and capability interests and U.S. national security, economic and commercial interests that are supported by relevant U.S. defence trade ties with Turkey,” Durakoglu wrote to Pallone, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s chairman.

“The offered sale will require a Congressional notification if the Department of State were to approve it. According to a copy of the letter circulated on social media, we confirm our commitment to established defence trade authorization processes, including Congressional oversight,” she added.

Turkiye’s active contributions to NATO, as well as its support for “Ukraine’s territorial integrity and cooperative defence relations,” are ” significant deterrent to malign influence in the region,” according to Durakoglu.

“The U.S. and Turkey have strong bilateral defence ties, and Turkey’s sustained NATO interoperability is a priority,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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