Ankara expects US’ swift completion of approval process of F-16 fighter jet sales, says national defense minister
In line with the US’ recent positive approach, now Türkiye wants to see concrete steps from Washington, said the Turkish defense chief on Thursday, referring to Türkiye’s pending purchase of F-16 fighter jets.
At a joint press conference with his Finnish counterpart Antti Kaikkonen in the capital Ankara, National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said: “Based on these positive approaches, we now expect positive and concrete steps from the US. We want this work and the process to be concluded as soon as possible in a positive and rapid manner.”
After the US Congress dropped restrictive language on the F-16 sales from a defense bill, after Türkiye’s insistence, Ankara has signaled that it wants the sales approved by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden as soon as possible.
“We expect all our allies, especially Finland, to support and contribute to Türkiye’s fight against terrorism and the modernization efforts of the Turkish Armed Forces,” Akar added.
“We have seen the positive approach of our US counterparts from the very beginning on this issue,” Akar explained. “We have always seen a positive approach from the US … in meetings between delegations, especially US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.”
Though the Biden administration had supported the sales, some members of Congress close to the Greek lobby had tried to block its approval.
Calling on Türkiye’s allies to make “the necessary contribution” to support the Turkish Armed Forces’ procurement and modernization efforts, both in the fight against terrorism and in ensuring that Ankara can “fully” fulfill its duties within NATO, he said: “We are working to supply (ourselves) from our other allies, but we are running into some limitations.”
He also said: “I would like to remind you once again that these restrictions are also (to be) removed.”
Ankara requested F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021. The $6 billion deal would include the sale of 40 jets, as well as modernization kits for 79 warplanes that the Turkish Air Force already has in its inventory.
Türkiye has long called on its NATO allies as well as alliance hopefuls Sweden and Finland to lift all arms embargoes on Türkiye, whether declared or not.
Türkiye has been a member of NATO for over 70 years, and boasts the alliance’s second-largest army.