There are too many outstanding issues with Turkey for the United States to move forward with the planned sale of F-16s to Ankara, members of the US Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues said in a statement on Tuesday.
While Turkey relenting in its opposition to Sweden and Finland joining NATO is a welcome development, ” over the last decade, Turkey has not been a productive member of NATO nor a reliable ally to the U.S.,” they said.
US sanctions against Turkey and key Turkish defence officials remain in place, the representatives said, and President Joe Biden’s government “has not provided answers to how Turkey would qualify to be exempt from these sanctions”.
Washington imposed Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) sanctions on Ankara in 2020 over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, which pose a security threat to NATO infrastructure according to the Pentagon. Turkey’s participation in the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet development program was also suspended over the purchase.
Biden’s administration has also not explained how they would “mitigate the risks of co-locating F-16s and modernisation kits with a Russian weapons system, which is why Turkey was removed from the F-35 program”, they said.
The representatives cited Turkey’s thousands of violations of Greek airspace, adding that “they do not intend to suspend these aggressive and destabilizing actions soon” and that “none of Turkey’s actions in the Aegean Sea … could be classified as defensive but rather are simply intimidation”.
If Washington were to go through with the F-16 sales, “American-made warplanes would undoubtedly be used to enter Greek airspace”, they said, violating US law that only allows weapons sales for self-defence operations.
The fighter jets would also be used against Syrian Kurds, who have been allied with the United States for years over fighting the Islamic State (ISIS).
“Until the Administration can provide suitable answers on how they intended to mitigate the above-listed concerns, we will continue to object to this weapons transfer and do everything we can to ensure that these F-16s are not delivered to the Turkish government,” they concluded.