US State Dept. notifies Congress on F-16 kit sale to Türkiye
The U.S. State Department notified Congress that it approved the sale of F-16 jet Link-16 tactical data link modernization kits to Türkiye on Monday, sources said.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has not released a formal statement, but sources noted the kit includes relevant equipment and engineering assistance necessary to upgrade the Link-16 tactical data link to the level of “Block Upgrade-2,” Anadolu Agency (AA) reported.
Congress has 15 days to approve or reject the State Department decision.
Link-16 is a military radio network, also known as a tactical data link (TDL), used by NATO and allied countries.
It provides tactical information sharing between aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), ships and ground forces.
Türkiye has been seeking to modernize its existing fleet 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 (TL 379.15 billion).
The request came instead of a refund for the $1.4 billion payment Türkiye had made for the next-generation F-35 fighter jets. The payment was issued before being removed from the multinational program developing the aircraft over Ankara’s decision to acquire Russian-made S-400 air missile defense systems.
Some members of the U.S. Congress have voiced objections to the F-16 deal and lastly tied its approval to Türkiye’s ratification of the NATO membership of Sweden and Finland, which must be agreed upon by all 30 members of the trans-Atlantic defense alliance. Türkiye and Hungary approved Finland’s accession, but Ankara is still waiting for Sweden to abide by the terms of the deal the countries reached back in the summer.
But Türkiye rejected the preconditions to buy F-16s, saying that the issue could be overcome if the Biden administration maintains a decisive stance.
“It would not be right or fair to make two independent issues – the two countries’ NATO membership and the purchase of F-16s – conditional on each other,” Çavuşoğlu told a news conference alongside his American counterpart Anthony Blinken.
“It would not be possible for us to purchase the F-16s under these conditions.”