Biden administration asks US Congress to authorise F-16 fighter jet sale to Türkiye which would pave the way to repair ties between both countries.
The Biden administration has pressed the US Congress for approval of the F-16 fighter jet sale to Türkiye, the Wall Street Journal has reported.
By asking the congressional leaders to approve the weapons deal, the administration is setting up a showdown with the lawmakers, WSJ said on Wednesday.
According to the daily, Türkiye’s mediation efforts to end the Russia-Ukraine conflict and its supply of TB-2 combat drones to Ukraine, which proved very effective on the battlefield, significantly contributed to warming the ties between Ankara and Washington.
US and Turkish officials are advocating for the F-16 deal, arguing that it could help repair the American-Turkish defence relationship, frayed after Ankara chose to buy a Russian air-defence system in 2017, the daily reported.
Ankara says it was forced to opt for the Russian weapon system after the Obama administration refused to sell the Patriot missile defence system to its NATO ally.
An approximately $6-billion deal would include the sale of 40 newly built F-16V fighter jets and modernisation kits for 80 F-16 C/D models that the Turkish Air Forces has in its inventory.
The Turkish government made the request for the F-16s and modernisation kits in October 2021 and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on April 8 that the talks were "progressing positively."
Influential lawmakers favour sale
Naz Durakoglu, the State Department's top official for legislative affairs, acknowledged last month in a letter to Congressman Frank Pallone the ongoing tensions over additional arms sales to Türkiye but maintained that the sanctions and Türkiye's removal from the F-35 fighter jet programme represent "a significant price paid" for its acquisition of Russia's S-400 missile defence system.
Several lawmakers reportedly favour the deal.
Türkiye paid $1.4 billion for the F-35 fighter jets, but Washington took Ankara out of the programme in 2019.
US claims the Russian system is a safety risk but Türkiye maintains the S-400 would pose no threat to NATO or its armaments because it would not be integrated into the alliance's systems.
Ankara has repeatedly proposed setting up a joint commission to resolve the matter.