The US government stated a possible sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara would be in accordance with US national security objectives and would also benefit NATO’s long-term unity, the State Department said in a letter to Congress.
Turkey requested in October to the United States to buy 40 F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for the existing Turkish F-16s. Washington has so far avoided expressing any opinion on the sale, citing the negative stance of Congress.
The supply of US arms to NATO partner Turkey became difficult after Ankara bought Russian-made air-defense systems, triggering U.S. sanctions as well as Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jet program.
The State Department letter, first reported by Reuters, is dated March 17 and signed by the agency’s top legislative official, Naz Durakoglu. She admits the strained relations while praising Turkey’s support for and defense links with Ukraine as “an important deterrent to malign influence in the region.”
While the letter does not provide any assurance or a schedule for the sale, it underscores that Washington’s punitive actions in response to Ankara’s acquisition of Russian S-400 systems reflect “a significant price paid.”
“The Administration believes that there are nonetheless compelling long-term NATO alliance unity and capability interests, as well as U.S. national security, economic and commercial interests that are supported by appropriate U.S. defense trade ties with Turkey.
“The proposed sale will require a Congressional notification if the Department of State were to approve it,” the letter said.