US lawmakers from both parties urged the administration of US President Joe Biden not to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, and expressed confidence that Congress would block such a deal.
In a letter to Biden and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, 11 members of the House of Representatives expressed “deep concern” about recent reports that Turkey may purchase 40 new F-16s produced by Lockheed Martin and 80 modernization equipment for the same model. The letter dates back to October 25 and was reviewed by Reuters on Tuesday.
American F-16 fighter jet
“Following President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s announcement in September that Turkey will buy another batch of the S-400 missile defense system, we cannot jeopardize our national security by sending American-made aircraft to an ally that continues to act as an adversary,” the lawmakers wrote.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A State Department spokesperson said the department does not comment on communications with Congress.
Reuters reported this month that Turkey had asked the United States to buy 40 F-16 fighter jets produced by Lockheed Martin and about 80 modernization equipment for its existing aircraft.
Ankara has previously ordered more than 100 F-35 aircraft, also produced by Lockheed Martin, but the United States has excluded Turkey from the program after it acquired Russian S-400 missiles.
“We trust that Congress will stand together to block any of these exports should these plans go forward, but the United States cannot afford to transfer any advanced military equipment to the government of Turkey at this time,” the lawmakers’ letter read.
The partnership between the two NATO members has gone through difficult times over the past five years due to differences over Syria, Ankara’s closer ties with Moscow, its maritime ambitions in the Mediterranean, US accusations of a Turkish state-owned bank, and the erosion of rights and freedoms in Turkey