US Moving Forward With F-16 Sale To Turkey Despite Sweden’s NATO Bid Being Blocked
According to a Reuters report, the US is ready to proceed with the F-16 aircraft sale to Turkey in the form of a smaller modernization package, a deal valued at $259 million.
The report indicated that US congressional figures disclosed that they gave their “informal” approval for the arms sale on Monday, which also includes avionics software enhancements and radars.
The report added that US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that “Turkiye is a longstanding and valued NATO ally… The Biden Administration supports Türkiye’s efforts to bring the avionics of its F-16 fleet up to standard.”
The spokesperson further elaborated that the upgrade would bolster connectivity between Turkey and NATO’s military systems and provide enhancements for safety protocols such as a ground collision avoidance system.
Once the sale is ratified, the package would mark the first military sale to Turkey that Congress has approved of in years.
This package is a separate deal from Turkey’s request in 2021 for $20 billion worth of Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters, including 80 modernization kits.
This comes a few weeks after Ankara approved Finland’s proposal to join the US-led military alliance NATO. Finland and Sweden have attempted to acquire membership since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine; however, Turkey blocked the two Nordic states from joining NATO after the Turkish government accused Stockholm and Helsinki of harboring members of the Kurdish separatist groups in Iraq, such as the Kurdistan workers party (PKK), which Ankara holds responsible for the November 2022 Istanbul bombing.
Turkey remains indecisive about Sweden’s proposal, given Ankara’s claim that Swedish officials have not taken the necessary measures to crack down internally on members of the PKK and allied Kurdish militia groups, many of whom continue to reside in Stockholm. Ankara has also criticized Sweden’s failure to extradite militants from the PKK as well as militants from the Gulen Movement back to Turkiye.
Earlier this year, a far-right Swedish politician burned several Qurans in front of the Turkish embassy in Stockholm, which resulted in the Turkish government further resolving to block Sweden’s NATO bid. The Swedish government’s refusal to stop recent Quran-burning protests has further inflamed tensions.
Wed, 04/19/2023 – 03:30