US Approves $23B F-16 Fighter Jet Deal For Turkey; OKs F-35 Stealth Warplanes For ‘Rival’ Greece

The US has approved the sale of F-16 warplanes to Turkey. The State Department notified Congress of its approval of the $23 billion F-16 sale to Turkey, along with the $8.6 billion sale of stealth F-35 fighter jets to Greece.

The deal includes 40 new F-16s and equipment to upgrade 79 of its existing F-16 fleet. The sale to Greece includes 40 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and related equipment.

Earlier, as the Eurasian Times reported, President Biden formally communicated his decision to initiate the notification process for the sale of F-16s to Turkey, contingent upon Ankara’s completion of Sweden’s NATO accession.

In a letter addressed to key leaders of Capitol Hill committees, President Biden urged Congress to approve the sale “without delay,” according to a statement from a US official. 

This follows a letter sent by the White House on January 24, urging Congress to greenlight the US$20+ billion sale of F-16 aircraft and modernization kits to Turkey.

The State Department affirmed that the Biden administration supports modernizing Turkey’s F-16 fleet. However, it noted the US Congress’s crucial role in this process. 

Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said, “President Biden and Secretary Blinken have been very clear of our support for modernizing Turkey’s F-16 fleet, which we view as a key investment in NATO interoperability. But beyond that, we also recognize that Congress has a key role in reviewing arms sales, but I’m just not going to confirm or get ahead of proposed defense sales or transfers until they are formally notified to Congress.”

Separately, on January 25, US Ambassador to Turkey, Jeff Flake, had expressed confidence that “President Tayyip Erdogan will give a final sign-off on Sweden’s NATO membership within days.”

Flake anticipates that once the formal ratification document reaches Washington, the US State Department will officially notify Congress of the US$20 billion+ F-16 deal.

US President Joe Biden

The Turkish Parliament’s ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership bid on January 23 was a pivotal moment, overcoming a 20-month delay and clearing the path for the expansion of the Western military alliance. 

The decisive vote of 287-55 in favor of Sweden becoming the 32nd NATO member positions President Erdogan to sign the legislation, which will be published in Turkey’s Official Gazette. Additionally, the instrument of accession for Sweden needs to be sent to Washington. 

Ambassador Flake remains confident in the expeditious progress, stating, “I see no reason why, with the parliament having acted here, that Turkey would wait.” “So I would expect as soon as that is conveyed to Washington, then congressional notification (of the F-16 sales) will happen,” he added.