Türkiye will not accept any condition on using F-16 fighter jets it demands from the United States, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said
He was referring to Greek lobbying and a bill approved by American lawmakers, creating a new hurdle for any purchase by Türkiye.
“We want to make it clear that we will not accept this. We evaluate that this can be improved with the work to be done in both the White House and the Senate,” he said.
Akar was speaking in an interview with Turkish broadcaster A Haber where he said there is no sign so far that the sale process will result in a negative result such as delay or making it conditional.
He said the negotiations between the military delegations of both sides are continuing as expected and that they are currently discussing technical details.
“We are studying what could be technically possible regarding the radars, electronic warfare systems and simulations in the new aircraft we will buy,” he said.
Three meetings have been organized so far in Türkiye in January-March 2022.
U.S. President Joe Biden has said he would work to convince lawmakers to deliver the F-16 jets for Türkiye’s air force. A Turkish delegation flew to Washington on Aug. 15 to follow up on Biden’s pledge.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in May said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “no longer exists for him” after his lobbying effort against Türkiye in Congress to block the sale of the F-16s.
Last month’s bill marks the latest effort by the House, known for its anti-Ankara stance that has repeatedly damaged bilateral relations, to exert control over the sale of the Lockheed Martin aircraft to Türkiye.
Türkiye, in October last year, made a request to buy 40 F-16 fighters and nearly 80 modernization kits to upgrade its aging fleet in what is estimated to be a $6 billion (TL 109.8 billion) deal.
The process to finalize the defense bill, known as NDAA, is lengthy, and the Senate will also have to back similar language before it can be sent to Biden’s desk to be signed into law. Revisions to the bill in its current form are all but certain. However, the president can veto such legislation.
The sale of U.S. weapons to Türkiye became contentious after Ankara acquired Russian-made S-400 defense missile systems. The deal triggered U.S. sanctions as well as Türkiye’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program.