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US expresses support for Türkiye’s F-16 upgrade as Sweden joins NATO

US expresses support for Türkiye's F-16 upgrade as Sweden joins NATO
By Ahmet Kocak
Jan 24, 2024 10:01 AM

U.S. president has long been clear that he supports modernizing Türkiye’s F-16 fleet, State Department spokesperson says

President Joe Biden has long been clear about his support for modernizing Türkiye’s F-16 fleet as it welcomed the Turkish Parliament’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession protocol, the U.S. State Department said Tuesday.

Asked about the Turkish Parliament’s approval of Sweden’s NATO bid, a State Department spokesperson told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the U.S. looks forward to receiving Türkiye’s instrument of ratification in Washington.

“As a highly capable defense partner, Sweden’s prompt accession into NATO will strengthen the alliance,” the spokesperson told AA.

Asked when the State Department will move forward with the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Türkiye, the spokesperson said, “President Biden has long been clear that he supports modernizing Türkiye’s F-16 fleet, which is an investment in NATO interoperability.”

“This proposed sale will support the national security interests of the U.S., Türkiye and all NATO Allies.”

“Congress has a key role in reviewing arms sales, and some members of Congress have publicly said that Türkiye’s approval of Sweden’s application to join NATO is a key consideration before they can support the sale of F-16s to Türkiye,” the spokesperson added.

The Turkish Parliament hours earlier overwhelmingly ratified Sweden’s membership in a 287 to 55 vote. Hungary is now the only NATO member that has not signed off on Sweden’s entry into the alliance.

Finland and Sweden – both Nordic countries close to or bordering Russia – applied for NATO membership soon after Russia launched its war on Ukraine in February 2022.

Finland became NATO’s 31st ally in April 2023 following approval from all of the alliance’s legislatures.

Türkiye is seeking to purchase from the U.S. the latest model F-16 Block 70 aircraft as well as 79 modernization kits to upgrade its remaining F-16s to Block 70 level.

Although the Biden administration repeatedly said it wants to move forward with the sale of F-16 jets to Türkiye, 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.

Source: Anadolu Agency

Last Updated:  Jun 5, 2024 4:45 PM