The United States has given its approval for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey following the recent ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership by the Turkish parliament. This move, announced by the US Department of State on Friday night, entails a $23 billion agreement to supply the warplanes to Turkey, a NATO ally. Alongside this deal, there is also a companion agreement worth $8.6 billion for the sale of advanced F-35 fighter jets to Greece, another ally within the Western military bloc.
The decision from the US Department of State came shortly after Turkey deposited its “instrument of ratification” for Sweden’s NATO accession with Washington, the designated repository for alliance documents. This development follows the lifting of objections by several key members of Congress. The sale to Turkey comprises 40 Lockheed Martin F-16s, along with equipment aimed at modernising 79 of its existing F-16 fleet. Meanwhile, Greece is set to receive 40 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and associated equipment.
Turkey’s quest to upgrade its F-16 fleet began in October 2021, with a formal request for the jets. However, delays in the approval of Sweden’s NATO bid by Turkey posed a hurdle to obtaining congressional approval for the sale. Notably, Ankara had conditioned its ratification of Sweden’s membership on the approval of the new plane sale. While President Joe Biden’s administration supported the transaction, some lawmakers voiced concerns over Turkey’s human rights record. Nevertheless, with the approval process underway, Congress has a 15-day window to object to the sale before it is considered final.