The US approved a $23 billion F-16 contract for Türkiye
Turkish F-16 fighter exercises in Germany in 2023. Photo: Jetphotos

The US approved the sale and upgrade of F-16 fighter jets worth 23 billion USD to Türkiye after the country approved Sweden joining NATO.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) of the Pentagon on January 26 announced that the US State Department had approved a potential contract worth 23 billion USD to provide up to 40 F-16C multi-role fighters. /D Block 70, with spare parts, technical equipment and training support.

In this contract, Washington also agreed to modernize 79 F-16 aircraft in Ankara’s payroll to the world’s most modern F-16V standard. The US also provided 401 AIM-9X Block II short-range air-to-air missiles, 952 AIM-120C-8 medium-range air-to-air missiles, hundreds of ground-to-ground missiles and guided bombs, electronic warfare systems, and equipment. Inspection and maintenance for the Turkish F-16 fleet.

“The sale will support US foreign policy and national security goals through improved NATO air capabilities and alliances, which are drivers of economic stability.” and politics in Europe,” DSCA’s statement said.

US officials affirmed that the contract will allow Turkey to expand and modernize its F-16 fleet because the aircraft in the country’s service are nearing the end of their operating life. “Turkey already owns F-16 aircraft and will not have any difficulties in receiving the new batch of weapons. This sale will not change the military balance in the region,” DSCA said.

The deal has been notified to the US Congress, which will have 15 days to decide whether to block the contract or not. If there is no opposition from Congress, the deal will be presented to President Joe Biden for approval.

US officials said Congress would not block the deal, although some lawmakers still criticized Türkiye.

“Approving the proposal to buy F-16s for Turkey is always associated with the country’s acceptance of Sweden’s NATO membership. This is not an easy decision,” said Congressman Ben Cardin, chairman of the Committee. US Senate Foreign Affairs, said. This is one of four parliamentary committees with the power to approve or block arms sales to foreign countries.

Washington approved the F-16 deal with Ankara a day after Turkey completed the process of accepting Sweden into NATO, ending months of delays that frustrated some of the country’s allies.

Turkey initially ordered more than 100 F-35A stealth fighters made by the US corporation Lockheed Martin but was removed from the project in 2019 after purchasing the Russian-made S-400 air defense complex.

The US then proposed selling F-16 fighters to offset the $1.4 billion Ankara invested in the F-35 project. However, the deal was opposed by some US congressional leaders, related to Turkey’s delay in approving Sweden into NATO, as well as a number of other issues.

Turkey is currently the country that owns the world’s third-largest F-16 fleet with 270 aircraft.