Friday, December 1, 2023

US Congress blocks sale of new F-16s to Turkey

10 months ago, in October 2021, Turkish authorities announced that they had sent an export request to Foreign Military Sales for 40 new Block 70 Viper standard F-16 fighter jets , as well as 80 kits allowing to upgrade 80 of its F-16 Block 52s to this standard, the most advanced currently available for Lockheed's aircraft. If the Biden administration had shown itself ready to support such a request in the hope of resuming normalized relations with Ankara, the American Congress, which has the last word on the subject, had been more than dubious . Indeed, for American senators and representatives, the international postures taken by President RT Erdogan, whether in the Middle East in Syria and Iraq, in the Aegean Sea against Greece and Cyprus, or even in his ambiguous relations with Russia and Iran, did not allow these new weapons to be delivered safely to Ankara, knowing that they could very well be turned against the United States or some of its allies. In addition, many American lawmakers were not ready to forget Turkey's order of Russian S-400s.

The situation remained relatively frozen for several months, until the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine precipitated events, leading the Turkish authorities to support the Ukrainian defenders by delivering to them in particular the now famous (but less and less effective) MALE TB2 BAyraktar drone, as well as closing the Black Sea straits, effectively blocking several large Russian naval units, including the Marechal Oustinov and Varyag Slava-class cruisers, in the Mediterranean rather than in the off the Ukrainian coast. Above all, Sweden and Finland's request for membership in the Atlantic Alliance was an opportunity for the Turkish president to take a position of strength in his negotiations with the United States and more broadly, with the other members of the alliance, many of which had implemented significant sanctions regarding the export of defense technology to Turkey in recent years.

TB2 drone Defense News | Military alliances | Fighter aircraft
The delivery of TB2 drones to Ukraine by Turkey allowed Ukrainian forces to resist the first Russian offensives, in particular against Kyiv, while helping to restore Turkey's image among Western leaders .

Officially, there were no negotiations between the United States and Turkey to lift Ankara's veto on these two accessions. However, in the final vote on the armed forces budget for 2023, American parliamentarians took numerous reservations in order to regulate the possible sale of new defense technologies to Turkey, but also to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These three countries are in fact targeted by an amendment tabled by the Democratic representative of Massachusetts James McGovern, who also chairs the defense committee of the House of Representatives, which strictly regulates the export of US defense technologies to participating or having participated countries. acts of genocide or in violation of international humanitarian laws. In addition, two Democratic representatives, Frank Pallone of New Jersey, and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, passed an amendment requiring the American executive to take concrete measures to "prevent F-16s sold to Turkey from be used to violate Greek airspace in the Aegean Sea. We can naturally see the effects of the visit of the Greek prime minister to the Capitol just two months ago.

LOGO meta defense 70 Defense News | Military alliances | Fighter aircraft

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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