The United States is likely to approve the sale of F-16 combat aircraft to Turkey – a deal which has been in troubled waters since its purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems – in about two months.
After being denied Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jets, Turkey sought new F-16s and 80 modernization kits for old jets. Ankara has said it may consider alternatives, including Russia, if the U.S. fails to follow through on its promise to deliver F-16s to the Turkish air forces.
U.S. President Joe Biden supports the sale. The legislation approved by the House of Representatives in July sought to bar the sale to Turkey unless the Biden administration certifies that doing so is essential to U.S. national security. It also included a description of concrete steps taken to ensure they are not used for “unauthorized overflights” of Greece.
Two amendments that put conditions on the potential sale to Turkey were reportedly removed from the latest Senate version of a bill last month.
“It’s not very easy to give a clear forecast but it appears there is a high probability of the process being completed in the next month or two,” Presidential Spokesperson Ibrahim Kalın was quoted as saying by Turkish media. “When this happens the F-16 problem, both the modernization and the purchase of new F-16s, will be resolved.”
In September, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he had received “positive” feedback from two U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham and Chris Coons, who he met in New York on their potential support for the sale.