The Biden administration has pressed the US Congress for approval of the F-16 sale to Turkiye, Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
By asking the congressional leaders to approve the deal, the administration is setting up a showdown with the lawmakers, said the WSJ.
Turkey’s mediation efforts warmed the relations
According to the daily, Turkey’s mediation efforts to end the Russia-Ukraine war and its supplying Ukraine with the TB-2 combat drones, which proved very effective on the battlefield, significantly contributed to warming the relations between Ankara and Washington.
US and Turkish officials are advocating for the F-16 deal, arguing that it could help repair the American-Turkish defense relationship, frayed after Ankara chose to buy a Russian air-defense system in 2017, the daily reported.
An approximately $6-billion deal would include the sale of 40 newly built F-16V fighter jets and modernization kits for 80 F-16 C/D models that the Turkish Air Forces has in its inventory.
‘Talks were progressing positively’
The Turkish government made the request for the F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021, and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on April 8 that the talks were “progressing positively.”
Naz Durakoğlu, the State Department’s top official for legislative affairs, acknowledged last month in a letter to Congressman Frank Pallone the ongoing tensions over additional arms sales to Turkey but maintained that the sanctions and Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program represent “a significant price paid” for its acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.
In early May, reports appeared on some US news outlets claiming that several lawmakers favor the deal.
Turkey paid $1.4 billion for the fighter jets, but Washington took Ankara out of the program in 2019 because Turkey bought the Russian S-400 defense system after its efforts to acquire US Patriot missiles were rebuffed.
The US claimed the Russian system was a safety risk, but Turkey maintained that the S-400 would pose no threat to NATO or its armaments because it would not be integrated into the alliance’s systems.
Ankara also repeatedly proposed setting up a commission to resolve the matter.