Turkey’s request for Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to upgrade its existing warplanes is valued at $6 billion (TL 54.02 billion), according to Turkish sources who spoke to two different media organizations Tuesday. Considering U.S. Congress’ opposition to Ankara purchasing arms due to several lingering issues, it was thought that it would be difficult to win approval for the deal, however, reports have said that the new U.S. administration supports it.
Turkey on Sept. 30 sent a formal request to the U.S. to purchase 40 new F-16 Block 70 aircraft and nearly 80 kits to modernize its F-16 fighters, two officials familiar with the matter were cited as saying by Bloomberg.
The report said President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to hold a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the upcoming global G-20 summit. There has been no official announcement or meeting scheduled as of yet.
News of the F-16 purchase plans was also reported by the London-based Middle East Eye (MEE), which cited a Turkish official who said Turkey’s F-16s fleet, if not restored, “could put not only the security of Ankara’s but also NATO’s southern flank at risk.”
“The U.S. officials never told us that the modernization of F-16 was something out of reach,” the official said. “We believe Washington would be mindful of the Turkish and Greek balance as well,” referring to the Greek purchase of French Rafale warplanes.
The Biden administration had no issues with the request to update the F-16s, another official told the MEE.
“However, the U.S. Congress is another matter,” the official said.
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