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Biden administration approves F-16 sale to Turkey

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 27, 2024 10:16 AM 2 min read
SoloTurk, the F-16 solo aerobatics display team of the Turkish Air Force, performs during a ceremony at Canakkale Martyrs' Memorial in Gallipoli Peninsula marking the 103rd anniversary of the Canakkale Land Battles in Canakkale, Turkey on April 24, 2018. (Berk Ozkan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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U.S. President Joe Biden's administration announced on Jan. 26 that it had approved a $23 billion deal to sell F-16 jet fighters and modernization kits to Turkey after Ankara ratified Sweden's accession to NATO.

The U.S. State Department notified Congress of the sale, as well as of a separate deal to sell $8.6 billion worth of F-35 jets to another NATO ally, Greece. Congress is expected to approve both deals.

Turkey is set to receive 40 F-16 jets and almost 80 modernization kits to upgrade its current air fleet. The Turkish Air Force operates over 240 F-16s.

Ankara made the request in October 2021, but the sale got tied down in Turkey's opposition to Sweden's NATO admission.

Both Sweden and Finland applied to join the Alliance in May 2022 in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Turkey initially blocked both of their bids but gave the green light to Helsinki in March 2023.

Ankara said it had opposed Sweden's admission due to the Nordic country's alleged support for Kurdish groups that Turkey considers to be terrorists, which Sweden denies.

Turkish opposition began to weaken last July when the country's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he would forward Stockholm's bid to the Turkish parliament after Sweden had agreed to address Turkey's "legitimate security concerns."

Nevertheless, the Turkish parliament has continued to delay the ratification until earlier this week.

After Turkey, Hungary remains the last obstacle to Sweden's admission. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Jan. 24 that Budapest supports Stockholm's entry.

F-16s for Ukraine: When will they arrive and what can they do?
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is an American air superiority fighter that Kyiv has begged for since the start of the full-scale invasion and is expected to finally start receiving this year. It’s a versatile workhorse of a jet that’s fought in dozens of wars and is
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