Although US President Joe Biden has made assurances that the US supports the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, it continues to be a controversial issue in the US Congress, according to a report by Bloomberg HT.
Biden said during the NATO summit in Spain on 30 June that he is confident the congressional approval needed for the sale can be obtained.
In April, the US State Department said a potential sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey would be in line with US national security interests and would also serve NATO’s long-term unity.
Turkey seeks to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernisation kits for its existing fleet as it has been denied F-35 fighters since its purchase of Russian missile systems.
Senator Jim Inhofe, a member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, said to Bloomberg HT that it was in the interests of both the US and NATO to provide Turkey with the fighter jets.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that the issue should be discussed thoroughly in the committee to confirm that the sale will serve mutual security interests. “I’ll work with other members of the committee and ask the administration specific questions to make an assessment,” she added.
Congressman Chris Smith, a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that it would be a huge mistake to sell Turkey F-16 fighters and modernisation kits, and it would be in breach of sanctions under the US sanctions law, CAATSA. He continued:
“Turkey bought Russian S-400 systems, and this was the reason they were expelled from the F-35 program. Considering Turkey’s insistence on keeping the S-400 systems, their purchase of F-16 fighters and modernisation kits will lead to serious risks.”
A delegation of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, led by senior committee member Gregory W. Meeks, is to meet with Turkish officials in their coming visit to Turkey, Bloomberg HT reported.