On 30 September 2021, Turkey sent a formal request to the U.S. to purchase 40 new F-16V Block 70 aircraft with “Viper configuration” and nearly 80 kits from Lockheed Martin to modernize its existing F-16 fighters, two Turkish officials familiar with the matter said.
The deal is potentially worth $6 billion, they said, but approval will be difficult to win, given Congress’s opposition to the Russian S-400 missile purchase and Turkey’s own uncompromising stance, reported Bloomberg news quoting a State Department spokesperson, who asked not to be identified.
Washington has demanded that Ankara scrap the S-400 in return for the lifting of related U.S. sanctions, but Turkey has shown no inclination. The sanctions cut off Turkey’s top defense procurement agency from U.S. financial institutions, military hardware and technology. New export licenses to transfer American goods or technology to the agency have been banned.
“Congress has said that we’re not going to sign off on major arms agreements with Turkey until we get resolution on the S-400s,” Aaron Stein, the director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Washington, said in a recent podcast. “This letter or request that the Turks have put forward faces a very tricky task to get through to get approval for the export of F-16s to Turkey.”
The Biden administration had no issues with the request to update the (Turkish) F-16s, another official told the MEE. “However, the U.S. Congress is another matter,” the official said.
The Turkish officials said President Erdogan expects to meet President Biden during the Group of 20 nations summit in Rome at the end of this month, though no meeting has been announced and it’s unclear how willing Biden might be to entertain the weapons request. Turkey’s aim is to secure jets compatible with NATO, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss strategic matters.
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