US Secretary of State Blinken Confirms Delivery of F16s to Turkey

The United States is ready to supply F16 fighter jets to Turkey. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said this on Monday during his state visit to the country.

“The Biden administration fully supports the package to modernize the existing F-16s and deliver new ones to Turkey,” Blinken said at a press conference with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. “Turkey is an ally and partner of NATO; this is in our national interest,” Blinken added.

He could not yet give a concrete timetable, as any sale of an F16 must receive the green light from the US Congress, which is not keen on such a delivery.

Turkey wants to purchase 40 aircraft of the latest fighter version, the F-16V Viper or Block 70, upgrade 79 older aircraft to the same standard and replace its F-4E Phantom.

President Joe Biden has approved the sale but is facing resistance in Congress. It concerns the human rights situation in Turkey and the country’s objection to Finland and Sweden joining NATO.

For Turkey, it is not acceptable that Sweden hosts Kurdish militants. In particular, the country considers members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) “terrorists”.

“It would be unfair to make NATO membership of Sweden and Finland a condition for the F-16s,” said Cavusoglu. “Turkey’s hands should not be tied,” he added, hoping that “the (US) sanctions will be lifted as soon as possible.”

Turkey has already paid $1.4 billion for an order for US F-35 stealth fighter jets, which have never been delivered. Moreover, we froze the entire contract in 2019 after Ankara bought Russia’s S-400 anti-missile system, which was seen as a threat to the F-35. Washington subsequently excluded Turkey from the advanced military program.

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