US: Biden government asks Congress to approve Turkish F-16 upgrades

The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a Biden administration source, that the US government is preparing the ground for a new offer to sell 40 new F-16s to Ankara.

The proposed arms sale sent to congressional leaders last month highlights how Turkey is seeking to use its role as a mediator in peace talks between Russia and Ukraine, and its support for the Ukrainian military as a means to repair relations with Washington and acquire sophisticated weapons. A possible deal would include missiles, radars and electronic systems for Turkish F-16which will significantly modernize Turkey’s fighters.

Turkey has held two rounds of negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow, and is also carrying out massive deliveries of combat drones to Ukraine and has closed the entrance of Russian warships to the Black Sea. These steps led to improved Ankara ties with Washington and more frequent contact between Turks and US officials, writes Wall Street Journal.

U.S. officials familiar with the matter said the government could use the missile deal to “measure” the level of congressional support for a separate proposal to sale of 40 new F-16s to Turkey.

US and Turkish officials have spoken out in favor of the F-16 deal, arguing that it could help restore US-Turkish relations, which have been hit hard by Ankara’s decision to buy S-400 at Russia. Some US lawmakers, including senior Democrats in both houses of Congress, oppose the sale of aircraftciting Ankara’s ties to Russia and human rights issues in Turkey, but the military lobby is likely to be stronger.

Buying missiles AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 Amraam together with radar and other equipment will cost Turkey more than 400 million dollarssaid an official familiar with the proposal. This can somewhat compensate for the lost profits that the US military-industrial complex suffered due to the fact that Turkey acquired Russian, and not American, air defense systems.

State Department “does not publicly acknowledge or comment on proposed defense transfers until they are formally notified by Congress,” the spokesperson said, adding that Mministry Turkish Defense did not immediately respond to a request.

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