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US Congress Threatens to Block F-16 Deal with Turkey

US Congress Threatens to Block F-16 Deal with Turkey

Tuesday, 26 October, 2021 - 10:30
A Turkish F-16 fighter jet participates in an air show in Istanbul on September 21, 2021. (EPA)

Members of the US Congress have threatened to block any possible sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.

The lawmakers wrote a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressing their strong opposition to any similar approach due to “Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies and his rapprochement with Russia.”

The lawmakers, led by Democrat Carolyn Maloney and Republican Gus Bilirakis, expressed “concern” over reports issued by Turkey on its plan to purchase “40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.”

They affirmed their intention to block any arms deal once it is introduced to the Congress, noting that “Erdogan continues to violate US laws and the NATO principles.”

The letter mentioned the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia. The bill was approved by the Senate in July 2017 after it passed the House.

In late 2020, the US imposed sanctions on Turkey for knowingly engaging in a significant transaction with Russia’s main arms export entity, by procuring the S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

Turkey defied this law when it purchased the S-400 system from Russia, the letter stressed, pointing to the efforts to try to reach a solution that prevents sanctions against Ankara.

“Less than a year after the CAATSA sanctions were imposed, Erdogan’s government doesn’t seem to be willing to respect US laws, consider reasons behind expelling Turkey from the F-35 program or address causes of the Congress’s freeze of arms sales to Turkey.”

Instead, Erdogan announced in September that Ankara still intended to buy a second batch of S-400s from Russia.

The lawmakers called for imposing additional sanctions on Turkey if it goes ahead with purchasing the new system from Russia, a position approved by the US ambassador to Turkey, Jeff Flake.

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