Biden asks Congress to approve new weapons deal selling upgrades to F-16 fighters for Turkey

Biden asks Congress to approve new $400m weapons deal selling missiles and radar to Turkey for its fleet of F-16 fighters

President Joe Biden has formally requested that Congress approves the sale of upgraded weapons systems, radar and other technical equipment to dramatically improve the capabilities of Turkey’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

The potential deal represents a major development in relations between Ankara and Washington, and comes as a result of Turkey showing considerable support for Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has allowed two rounds of Ukrainian-Russian peace talks to be held on Turkish soil while also supplying weapons to Ukraine – including the Bayraktar TB2 drone which has become a highly-effective tool for the nation’s armed forces.

US officials familiar with the request said the Biden administration may use the deal to gauge the level of support in Congress for a separate proposal to sell 40 new F-16s to Turkey, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have been tense ever since Turkey relied on Russia to provide its air-defence systems in 2017. 

Members in both houses of Congress are also said to be wary of forging too strong a relationship with Erdogan amid concerns over his nation’s human rights record, though the US State Department declared its desire to improve ties with the NATO member last year.

‘Turkey is a key NATO Ally and critical regional partner, and the United States is committed to improving the relationship between our two countries. It is in our interest to keep Turkey anchored to the Euro-Atlantic community,’ a statement given in August read.

President Joe Biden has formally requested that Congress approves the sale of upgraded weapons systems, radar and other technical equipment to dramatically improve the capabilities of Turkey’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets

US officials familiar with the request said the Biden administration may use the deal to gauge the level of support in Congress for a separate proposal to sell 40 new F-16s to Turkey, according to the Wall Street Journal (a pair of F-16 fighters are pictured in Arizona)

US officials familiar with the request said the Biden administration may use the deal to gauge the level of support in Congress for a separate proposal to sell 40 new F-16s to Turkey, according to the Wall Street Journal (a pair of F-16 fighters are pictured in Arizona)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has allowed two rounds of Ukrainian-Russian peace talks to be held on Turkish soil while also supplying weapons to Ukraine - including the Bayraktar TB2 drone which has become a highly-effective tool for the nation's armed forces

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has allowed two rounds of Ukrainian-Russian peace talks to be held on Turkish soil while also supplying weapons to Ukraine – including the Bayraktar TB2 drone which has become a highly-effective tool for the nation’s armed forces

The deal is expected to be worth around $400 million and would include the sale of a variety of missiles, advanced radar equipment and other technical upgrades fitted to Turkey’s jet fighters.

Meanwhile, a further sale of 40 F-16s to Turkey would likely see Washington and Ankara develop much closer ties – something the Biden administration is said to be interested in amid fears an extended period of frosty relations could push Erdogan to partner with Russia and China.

Erdogan reportedly first expressed interest in purchasing a second fleet of F-16 fighters from the US in a March phone call with Biden. 

But several lawmakers on both sides of the floor are resistant to the deal despite Turkey playing a major role in providing arms and support to Ukraine.

‘Turkey is a critical NATO ally, and so I have an open mind on allowing them to buy the F16, but it will take substantial convincing. I’m not there yet,’ said Sen. Jim Risch, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee.

The State Department ‘doesn’t publicly confirm or comment on proposed defense transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress,’ a spokesman said. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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