The Biden administration has asked Congress to approve the new sale of F-16 fighter jets, U.S. daily Wall Street Journal has reported.
According to a report by WSJ on May 11, Ankara’s role in the Ukraine conflict and its supplying drones to Ukraine has helped repair frayed ties with Washington and could set the stage for the sale of F-16 fighter jets.
“Those moves have resulted in warming ties with Washington and more frequent contact with U.S. officials,” WSJ said.
A deal would include the sale of newly built 40 F-16 fighter jets and the modernization of some 80 F-16s.
“U.S. officials familiar with the request said the administration could be using the missile deal to gauge the level of support in Congress for a separate proposal to sell 40 new F-16s to Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally that has angered some officials in Washington over its ties to Russia,” it said.
“U.S. and Turkish officials are advocating for the F-16 deal, arguing that it could help repair the American-Turkish defense relationship, which frayed after Ankara chose to buy a Russian air-defense system in 2017.”
Saying that some U.S. lawmakers, including senior Democrats in both houses of the Congress, oppose the sale, the daily highlighted that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan raised the issue of the F-16 sale in a phone call with his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, in March.
One of the opponents is Senator Bob Mendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Senator Jim Risch, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, is another one. “Turkey is a critical NATO ally, and so I have an open mind on allowing them to buy the F16, but it will take substantial convincing. I’m not there yet,” he told the WSJ.
But the daily underlined that after months of staying silent about the F-16 sale, “the Biden administration has begun to quietly advocate for the deal.”
“The newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Turkey, former U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, has also spoken in favor of the sale with his former colleagues in Congress, according to people with knowledge of the conversations.”
Hurriyet Daily News