Turkey’s defense ministry said a military delegation is headed to the U.S. to discuss the sale of F-16 fighters to the country.
"In order to carry out the F-16 procurement and modernization as soon as possible, the technical delegation of the Ministry of National Defense went to the U.S. to hold talks upon the invitation of the U.S.," the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry added that so far, three meetings have been held in Turkey: in December 2021, and din February and March of this year.
Last fall, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said that Washington had offered to supply Turkey with F-16s in exchange for its earlier investment in the F-35 program, from which Ankara was excluded after it acquired Russian S-400s. The U.S. has repeatedly expressed concern about Turkey's S-400 acquisition, as it believes Russia could use these air defense systems to obtain information about fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bombers.
After a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit in late June with Erdoğan, U.S. President Joe Biden said at a news conference: "We should sell the F-16 to Turkey. I said that in December and my position hasn't changed since then. It's not in our interests not to sell them. We need congressional approval to get there and I think we'll get there."
The U.S. House of Representatives, however, approved a legislation to block the sale. Put forward by New Jersey lawmaker Frank Pallone, the amendment passed 244-179 with strong Democratic support and 60 votes of approval coming from Republicans.
The law prohibits the sale or transfer of F-16s and modernization kits to Turkey unless Biden certifies the transfer is in American national interests and guarantees to Congress that in the 120 days prior to the transfer, the Turkish government has not "violated the sovereignty of Greece, including through territorial overflights."