US State Department approves sale of F-16s to Turkey, formally notifies Congress

By Anadolu Agency

The US State Department approved Friday the pending $23 billion sale of F-16 aircraft and modernization kits to Türkiye, sending formal notification to Congress.

“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security of the United States by improving the air capabilities and interoperability of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Ally that is a force for political and economic stability in Europe,” the US Défense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region,” it said.

The approval came after Turkey submitted documents related to Sweden’s NATO membership protocol after it was ratified Tuesday by the Turkish Parliament and was signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday.

Türkiye made a request to the US in October 2021 to purchase 40 new F-16 Block 70 aircraft, as well as 79 modernization kits to upgrade its remaining F-16s to Block 70 level.

The request includes 32 F-16 C Block 70 aircraft, 8 F-16 D Block 70 aircraft, 48 F110-GE-129D engines, as well as 119 for the modernization program — 79 installed, 40 spares.

The State Department informally notified Congress last January of the F-16 fighter jet sale but key lawmakers on Capitol Hill have vowed to nix the deal because of several demands, including making the purchase contingent on Ankara’s approval of Sweden’s NATO membership bid.

Congress has the right to object to the State Department’s determination within 15 business days for sale approvals granted to NATO members, including Türkiye, a member of the alliance for more than 70 years.

Senate Foreign Relations Chair Ben Cardin said in a statement Friday that he would permit the sale after Ankara’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership bid.

Sen. Jim Risch, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in late October that he would drop his objection to the sale after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a greenlight to Sweden’s bid to join NATO.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gregory Meeks released statements that said that they approved the sale to Türkiye.

The State Department also notified Congress on Friday on the $8.6 billion possible sale of 40 F-35 aircraft and related equipment to Greece.