After the Turkish parliament ratified Sweden’s NATO membership, the United States approved the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, alongside a deal to sell advanced F-35 fighter jets to Greece. The agreement, totaling $23 billion for Turkey and $8.6 billion for Greece, was notified to Congress by the US Department of State.
The delay in Turkish ratification of Sweden’s NATO accession had previously stalled congressional approval of Turkey’s request for F-16 jets, which had been made in October 2021. However, with the ratification completed, key Congress members lifted their objections. President Joe Biden urged swift approval of the F-16 sale following Turkey’s action.
Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, emphasized the significance of Turkey addressing concerns such as improving its human rights record, collaborating more effectively on holding Russia accountable for its actions in Ukraine, and contributing to stability in the Middle East. Cardin stated that his approval of Turkey’s F-16 purchase was contingent upon Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO membership.
Both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committees play roles in scrutinizing major foreign arms sales, often raising concerns about human rights or diplomatic issues.
Despite potential criticisms, US officials do not anticipate Congress blocking either the sale to Turkey or Greece, given the circumstances. Congress has 15 days to object to the sale after receiving formal notification from the State Department.