Türkiye warns of ‘price’ if US fails to deliver long-sought fighter jets - M5 Dergi
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Türkiye warns of ‘price’ if US fails to deliver long-sought fighter jets

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Sunday said “there would be a price” to pay if the United States fails to supply Türkiye with F-16 fighter jets it has been seeking in return for a payment it made for F-35 warplanes.

NATO member Türkiye has been seeking to modernize its existing warplanes to update its air force and sought to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 jets and nearly 80 modernization kits from the U.S., a deal reportedly valued at $20 billion.

Türkiye made this request instead of a refund for the payment it had made for the next-generation F-35 fighter jets. The payment was issued before it was removed from the multinational program developing the aircraft over Ankara’s decision to acquire Russian-made S-400 air missile defense systems.

“Regarding the F-16s, we want these from you, but you haven’t given them. (Originally, you were going to supply) an F-35, but you didn’t keep your word. Although we paid about $1.4 billion, you gave nothing in return,” Erdoğan said.

“If you give nothing in return, then there will be a price for that, too,” the president stressed.

Ankara had previously ordered more than 100 U.S. F-35 jets, but Washington removed Türkiye from the program in 2019 after it bought the S-400s. Türkiye has called the move unjust and demanded reimbursement for its $1.4 billion payment.

Erdoğan’s remarks came after Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu earlier this month said Türkiye expects the Biden administration to be decisive in its bid to sell F-16 warplanes to Türkiye and convince the U.S. Congress to drop its opposition to the deal.

The Biden administration has reportedly conveyed to Congress its intention to sell the fighter jets to Türkiye. The administration has said it supports the sale and has been in touch for months with Congress on an informal basis to win its approval. However, it has failed so far to secure a green light.

Senator Bob Menendez, a Democratic chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, whose leaders review major foreign military sales, has been against the deal.

Under U.S. law, Congress can block a sale by passing a resolution of disapproval after formal notification of a deal. Still, it is unlikely to do so if President Joe Biden decides to go ahead despite lawmakers’ objections. While Congress has passed such resolutions, it has never mustered the two-thirds majority needed in both chambers to overcome a presidential veto.

Ankara has vowed it might consider alternatives, including Russia, if the U.S. fails to follow through on its promise to deliver F-16s to the Turkish air force.

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