BY DAILY SABAH WITH AA
Amendments making sales of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye contingent on a series of conditions have been removed in the final U.S. defense spending bill, a report said Wednesday.
Legislation approved by the House of Representatives in July sought to bar the sale to Türkiye unless the Biden administration certifies that doing so is essential to U.S. national security. It also included a description of concrete steps taken to ensure they are not used for “unauthorized overflights” of Greece.
Ankara has been voicing its firm opposition to any conditions on the sale of the jets.
A conference committee made up of House and Senate members finalized the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) bill, which includes the 2023 defense budget.
According to the final version of the draft text obtained by the Anadolu Agency (AA), which will be voted on by both chambers of Congress, the amendments submitted by a group of representatives were dropped from the bill.
The move came after the two amendments introduced by Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Chris Van Hollen were removed from the Senate version of the annual defense spending bill.
Türkiye has been seeking to modernize its existing warplanes to update its air force and sought to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 jets and nearly 80 modernization kits from the U.S. after the purchase of F-35s fell through.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said he supports the sale and that he would work to convince lawmakers to deliver the F-16 jets for Türkiye’s air force.
The diplomatic efforts of Türkiye in Washington are said to have been effective in the shift in the Senate.
With the removal of the relevant articles from the conference committee, the law relating to Türkiye’s F-16 purchase was taken away from the hands of the U.S. Congress.
For the sale to be made, Congress should not object to the sales notification submitted by the administration.
After the Senate passes the NDAA, it will be made into a joint text with a previous version passed by the House of Representatives before it is sent to Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
Ankara had said it may consider alternatives, including Russia, if the U.S. fails to follow through on its promise to deliver F-16s to the Turkish air forces.
The sale of U.S. weapons to Türkiye became contentious after Ankara acquired Russian-made S-400 defense missile systems. The deal triggered U.S. sanctions as well as Türkiye’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program.