US may approve selling F-16s to Turkey
There is a possibility that Washington may finally approve Turkey's request to buy F-16 fighter jets, adding strength to NATO allies in the Black Sea.
According to CNN-Turk on Thursday, there is a possibility that the United States may finally approve Turkey's request to buy F-16 fighter jets, adding strength to NATO allies in the Black Sea.
The US and Turkey have recently held meetings in Ankara and Washington, according to CNN-Turk. The broadcaster reported that Turkey's request for the purchase of 40 Block 70 F-16 fighters and 80 Block 70 upgrade kits may materialize.
The US has been considering granting this deal as tensions brew in the Black Sea.
Washington Proposed F-16 Purchases as Reimbursement for F-35s
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced in October that the US suggested reimbursing Turkey for its contribution to the F-35 fighter jet program with F-16 fighters.
“We have made a $1.4bn payment for the F-35s and the US proposed to have such a proposal in return for these payments,” Erdogan said, adding, "we said let’s take whatever steps are needed to be taken to meet the defense needs of our country."
The Turkish president further noted that Turkey did not approach the US to buy F-16s and that the new F-35 jets can help his country develop its fleet.
Turkey Requests 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighter Jets
Last October, Turkey made a request to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets and 80 modernization kits for their already existing warplanes.
Turkey aims to modernize its military with F-16s, although tensions with the US have been escalating since 2019 when Ankara was removed from the multinational consortium for building the F-35 jets. Turkey, in total, had ordered 100 F-35 jets.
"As a matter of policy, the Department does not confirm or comment on proposed defense sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress," a spokesperson for the State Department said.
Recently, Erdogan assured Turkey's intentions to buy a second batch of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, which might trigger new US sanctions.
Erdogan to visit Ukraine soon
The Turkish President is planning on visiting Ukraine in the coming weeks, his spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said Wednesday, one day after the Turkish president warned Russia against "invading" Ukraine.
A spokesperson for Erdogan's office said she had no knowledge of his plans to visit Ukraine, adding that she learned about the visit through media inquiries on the matter.
"At the moment I do not have such information. If there is any exact information, we will inform journalists about it," the spokeswoman said after reporters asked her about the exact date of the visit.
Tensions between Ukraine and its neighbor to the east, Russia, are soaring amid western allegations that Moscow is planning a military invasion, which Russia has repeatedly denied.
NATO allies stand by to send weapons to Kyiv
According to Politico, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia are waiting for US authorization to deliver American-made lethal weaponry to Ukraine in order to deter an alleged Russian invasion.
Politico's article said the three Baltic nations were ready to supply weaponry to Ukraine, including anti-armor and ground-to-air missiles, citing officials from the countries and sources acquainted with the situation.
Senator Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Politico he expects the Biden administration to approve the arms delivery to Ukraine immediately. Under US export licensing restrictions, the Baltic countries must first seek State Department clearance before transporting weapons to Ukraine.