State Department OKs parts upgrade for Turkey’s F-16s, seeks Congress approval

State Department OKs parts upgrade for Turkey’s F-16s, seeks Congress approval

The US Department of State announced Saturday it has decided to approve a small modernization package for Turkey’s existing F-16 fleet.

The deal, valued at an estimated $259 million, is the first military equipment sale to Turkey in years and concerns avionics software upgrades.

The approval does not concern the $20 billion request from Turkey for new F-16s and nearly 80 upgrade kits.

The bigger request has raised objections in Congress, in view of Turkey’s acquisition of Russian missile systems and the use of the F-16s to repeatedly violate Greece’s air space and contest the sovereignty of parts of the Aegean Sea. The powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Menendez, has been particularly vocal in his objections.

Reuters reported Monday that the software upgrade deal “moves ahead…after leaders of US congressional committees gave informal approval.”

“Türkiye is a longstanding and valued NATO ally,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. “The Biden Administration supports Türkiye’s efforts to bring the avionics of its F-16 fleet up to standard.”

The State Department notes that the proposed sale will not change the military balance of power in the wider region.

Lolckheed Martin Aeronautics Company will be the contractor supplying the upgrades.

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