The Biden administration will seek congressional approval to sell 40 new F-16s to Turkey, a move it has been considering for over a year and one it expects to pave the way for Ankara to lift its block to the NATO membership of Sweden and Finland, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The White House also will ask lawmakers to approve a sale of next-generation F-35 warplanes to Greece.
The $20 billion sale to Turkey would include 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets, nearly 80 modernization kits for Turkey’s existing warplanes, more than 900 air-to-air missiles, and 800 bombs.
Approval of the sale is contingent on Turkey lifting its block, according to officials familiar with the proposal who spoke with the Journal.
President Joe Biden in June said he supports the sale of the fighter jets to Turkey and rejected suggestions that Washington’s support for the deal was in return for Turkey lifting its block.
“I said back in December, as you’ll recall, we should sell them the F-16 jets and modernize those jets as well,” he said at the time. “It’s not in our interest not to do that.
“And there was no quid pro quo with that. It was just that we should sell, but I need congressional approval to be able to do that. And I think we can get that.”
Sentiment toward Turkey in the U.S. Congress has turned sour over the past few years after Ankara acquired Russian-made defense missile systems, triggering U.S. sanctions as well as Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program.
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., has said he won’t approve a sale to Turkey, citing human rights concerns.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.
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