Biden Administration Approves Sale of F-16s to Turkey

The Biden administration has given the green light for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, a decision that comes in the wake of the Turkish government’s recent ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership. This move marks a significant milestone in the expansion of the alliance, particularly amidst heightened tensions following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Late on Friday, the State Department formally notified Congress of its approval for the $23 billion F-16 sale to Turkey, along with an additional $8.6 billion sale of advanced F-35 fighter jets to Greece. This decision came shortly after Turkey submitted its formal ratification for Sweden’s NATO accession to Washington, where alliance documents are kept, and following the removal of objections from key members of Congress.

The sale to Turkey includes 40 brand-new F-16s, as well as equipment to modernize 79 of its existing F-16 fleet. On the other hand, Greece’s purchase involves 40 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters along with associated equipment.

The agreement also includes the provision of 952 AIM-120C-8s, 401 AIM-9X missiles, 149 APG-83 radar systems, IVEWS integration, JHMCS II/HObIT systems, 864 GBU-39/B bombs, 96 AGM-88B missiles, 96 AGM-88E missiles, and over 1300 JDAM kits.

Turkey, a NATO ally, has long sought to upgrade its F-16 fleet and had made its approval of Sweden’s membership contingent upon the approval of the sale of these new aircraft. While the Biden administration had backed the sale, concerns over human rights raised by some lawmakers had initially posed obstacles. However, the U.S. government asserts that these objections have been addressed.

Turkey’s delay in approving Sweden’s NATO membership, which lasted over a year, was attributed to concerns regarding perceived inadequacies in addressing Turkey’s national security interests, particularly regarding its fight against Kurdish militants and other groups viewed as security threats by Ankara.

The prolonged delays in Turkey’s approval had caused frustration among the U.S. and other NATO allies, most of whom swiftly welcomed both Sweden and Finland into the alliance after the Nordic states abandoned their longstanding military neutrality following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The formal accession of Sweden to NATO now hinges on Hungary, the sole remaining NATO ally yet to approve its membership. U.S. and NATO officials anticipate prompt action from Hungary, particularly following Turkey’s decision.

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