The US Congress cannot approve the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey if it has not approved Sweden and Finland to join NATO.
“When Turkey approves the procedures for joining NATO, the new parliament can consider the sale of F-16 fighters. Otherwise, this pending sale will be uncertain,” the group of 29 senators said. Democrats and Republicans said in a letter to President Joe Biden on February 2.
This is the first time that the US Congress has explicitly and directly linked the sale of F-16s to Turkey with Finland and Sweden’s efforts to join NATO. The Biden administration has repeatedly affirmed its support for the deal and refused to link the two issues together.
Turkey ordered more than 100 F-35A fighters made by US Lockheed Martin, but was removed from the program in 2019 after purchasing the Russian-made S-400 air defense complex. Turkey in October 2021 said that the US proposed to sell F-16 to offset the $ 1.4 billion that it invested in the F-35 project.
Ankara then offered to buy 40 F-16 fighters and nearly 80 spare parts to modernize existing fighters, worth $20 billion.
Sweden and Finland in May 2022 ended decades of military non-alignment and applied to join NATO. To become a member of the bloc, the two countries must have their applications approved by the parliaments of all 30 NATO member states.
Turkey is protesting, as the two Nordic countries have not yet responded to their demands, mainly regarding the Kurdish militia that Ankara considers “terrorists” and responsible for the coup plot in 2015. 2016. Meanwhile, Hungary is expected to approve Sweden and Finland’s accession to NATO in February.
Turkey has said it could ratify Finland’s accession to NATO before Sweden, but Helsinki rejected the idea, arguing that the security of the two Nordic countries is interdependent.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on January 18 called on the Biden administration to be more assertive and persuade the US Congress to approve the deal. He also warned Washington not to consider Ankara’s approval of the two Nordic countries to NATO as a prerequisite for the F-16 sale.
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