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The Biden administration has informed US lawmakers that it intends to promote Turkey $23bn price of F-16 fighter jets after Ankara formally cleared Sweden’s bid to affix the Nato army alliance.
The US Department of State notified Congress that it deliberate to approve Turkey’s request to purchase 40 F-16s, in response to an announcement late on Friday by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The US additionally intends to promote Turkey kits to modernise 79 present F-16 jets as a part of the deal.
US approval of the arms deal, which Turkey first proposed greater than two years in the past, is anticipated bring to a halt a long-running saga that has dogged relations between the Nato allies.
“These new and refurbished aircraft will provide Turkey with a fleet of modernised multi-role combat aircraft to enable it to provide for the defence of its airspace, contribute to Nato missions to preserve regional security and defend Nato Allies”, DSCA mentioned.
The US additionally mentioned on Friday that it deliberate to approve Greece’s request to buy nearly $9bn of latest-generation F-35 fighter jets. That deal had additionally been caught up by the impasse in approving Turkey’s F-16 purchases.
The White House had linked its approval of Turkey’s purchases to the nation ratifying Sweden’s Nato bid, whereas Ankara insisted the US needed to approve the arms deal as a situation for fulfilling Stockholm’s request. In addition to pushing the US to clear its F-16 purchases, Turkey additionally demanded quite a few concessions from Stockholm associated to safety.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed off on Sweden’s accession to Nato on Thursday. The transfer leaves Hungary because the lone holdout amongst Nato members on approving Stockholm’s request. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán mentioned this week Hungary was dedicated to ratifying Sweden’s bid to affix Nato, however he additionally invited Swedish counterpart Ulf Kristersson to Budapest to “negotiate”.
The US and different western allies view Sweden’s accession to Nato as an important bulwark towards Russia’s aggression in Europe after its 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Erdoğan has additionally taken steps in direction of enhancing relations with Greece, which was seen by some US lawmakers as an necessary step in clinching the F-16 deal. The Turkish president travelled to Athens in December for his first official go to since 2017, vowing to “resolve our current problems through constructive dialogue, good neighbourliness and collaborative efforts”.
Congress could have 15 days to evaluate each the Turkish and Greek arms offers. Turkey’s F-16 purchases will largely be fulfilled by Lockheed Martin, whereas Lockheed and Pratt & Whitney would be the most important contractors on the Greek F-35 deal.
Ben Cardin, chair of the highly effective Senate overseas relations committee, mentioned on Friday that his approval of Turkey’s F-16 deal had been “contingent on Turkish approval of Sweden’s Nato membership”.
But he additionally warned that the US remained involved over Ankara’s lack of co-operation on “holding Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine” and over the Erdoğan authorities’s human rights report.
Turkey had sought to buy latest-generation F-35 jets, however was ejected from the US-led programme in 2019 after Ankara took supply of a Russian air defence system over American objections.