US President Joe Biden’s administration has agreed to sell F-16 fighter jet communications system upgrade kits to Turkey in a deal worth about $259 million. Leaders of US congressional committees informally approved the deal, which includes the sale of an upgrade package for Ankara’s jets. The deal comes in the wake of Turkey’s agreement to join Finland to the North Atlantic, and the emergence of signs of easing tensions between Ankara and neighboring Athens before the Turkish elections scheduled for next month.
US President Joe Biden’s administration notified Congress Monday of a planned sale of a fleet avionics software upgrade Türkiye The current F-16 fighter jet, in a deal worth about $259 million.
The deal includes the sale of a modernization package for Turkey’s aircraft, after it was unofficially approved by the leaders of committees in the US Congress.
But a larger deal, which Turkey, a NATO ally, is seeking to buy billions of dollars in F-16s, remains unaccounted for, amid persistent opposition in Congress.
If the smaller sale is approved by Congress through formal approval procedures, the package would mark Turkey’s first significant military sale to be approved by Congress in years.
“Turkey is a longstanding and important NATO ally,” a US State Department spokesman said in a statement. “The Biden administration supports Turkey’s efforts to bring the avionics of its F-16 fleet up to the required standards.”
The spokesman indicated that the update will improve interoperability between Turkish systems and NATO systems, by updating their communications, and also providing upgrades to enhance safety measures such as the ground collision avoidance system.
The deal to modernize the F-16 fighters comes in the wake of Turkey’s agreement to join Finland in the North Atlantic, and the emergence of signs of easing tensions between Turkey and neighboring Greece, ahead of the Turkish elections scheduled for next month.
Lockheed Martin will be the prime contractor in the deal.
The package is separate from Lockheed Martin’s proposed $20 billion sale of new F-16 fighters, and the roughly 80 upgrade kits Turkey ordered in October 2021.
A source said the smaller package was approved, after the administration urged lawmakers to approve it to send a “positive signal” to Ankara.
The approval does not mean the larger sale will pass Congress, in which US lawmakers are seeking assurances from Turkey on issues beyond NATO’s Nordic expansion.
The issues include easing tensions with Greece forever, stopping the storming of northern Syria, and implementing the sanctions imposed on Russia.
Such terms are likely to anger Turkey, which says the United States has “endless” demands on the sale of the F-16s and that Washington’s actions are dishonest.