Turkey asked the US to sell 40 F-16 fighter jets and 80 spare parts to modernize existing fighters, after the F-35 deal failed. Experts say that Ankara can take advantage of the $ 1.4 billion deposited of the F-35 for new deal.
Sources on October 7 said the deal to sell F-16 fighter jets and parts worth billions of dollars to Turkey is being reviewed by the State Department and the US Congress. These two agencies can block US arms sales to other countries. The US State Department and the Turkish embassy in Washington declined to comment on this matter. Media reported that Ankara has asked Washington to sell 40 new F-16 fighter jets and 80 spare parts for the modernization of existing F-16 fighters.
Turkey has ordered more than 100 F-35 fighters made by Lockheed Martin but was removed from the program in 2019 after buying the Russian-made S-400 air defense complex. In December 2020 US imposed sanctions against the General Directorate of Defense Industry of Turkey and Ismail Demir, its leader, and three other employees.
Relations between Turkey and the United States have been tumultuous over the past five years, revolving around disagreements over the situation in Syria, closer ties between Ankara and Moscow, and Turkey’s naval ambitions in the Mediterranean.
Some US congressmen have also had a negative attitude towards Turkey over the years, mainly related to the S-400 deal and human rights issues, making the purchase of 40 F-16 fighters may be affected.
The US has repeatedly warned Turkey not to buy more weapons from Russia. However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week that the country intends to buy a second batch of S-400s, a move that could further fracture relations with the United States.
Bipartisanship in the US Congress supports pushing the administration of US President Joe Biden to put more pressure on Turkey, related to the purchase of Russian weapons and human rights issues.
Meanwhile, Turkey expressed hope to build better relations with the US under President Joe Biden. At a press conference on September 30, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he hoped to meet his US counterpart Joe Biden to discuss the $1.4 billion payment that Turkey made before being banned and removed from the F-35 program.
“We paid $1.4 billion and what will it be? We don’t make money easily. They have to deliver the plane or give us back the money,” Erdogan said during the meeting.