According to Senator Menendez, a deal for F-16 fighter jets might be made if Ankara accepts NATO expansion.
Turkey’s request to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and modernization kits for almost 80 warplanes it already owns could reportedly be blocked by the US unless Ankara welcomes Finland and Sweden into NATO. According to the Washington Post, Senator Robert Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggested such a scenario.
“I hope the administration is noticing it as they’re considering F-16s,”According to the newspaper, the Democratic lawmaker was quoted as saying. “You should be telling [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan you’ve got to act in a different way if you want consideration for anything.”
The US senator was responding to Turkey’s obstruction of the membership requests of the two Nordic nations to NATO this week. Before new members can be accepted, they must approve all thirty of their respective member countries. Ankara, however, said it won’t provide its consent because it claims Sweden and Finland harbored “terrorists.”
The objections seemingly referred to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a Kurdish militant group that waged a lengthy guerilla campaign against the Turkish government. Erdogan wants up to 30 individuals to be expelled by Finland or Sweden in order to allow them to join US-led military bloc.
Turkey submitted a request last October for American warplanes. However, it became tense for the US government. NATO allies were previously expelled from F-35 in protest at Russia’s 2017 acquisition of anti-aircraft systems. This was claimed by the US to be a way to expose to Moscow secrets about the stealth fighters that are advanced US-made.
Reuters published an April report that the Department of State sent a letter to Congress arguing for the American interest, but not supporting the deal. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Biden Administration asked Congress to approve the plane sale last month. This was based on insiders.
Turkish leaders indicated they viewed their request as compensation for the F-35s being ignored. “unjust”.
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