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Battle for the Sale of F-16 Jets to Turkey Heating Up in US Congress

turkey F-16 Congress
Turkish F-16 fighter jet. Credit: Public domain

Battle lines are being drawn in the US Congress for the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey as Greek-American lawmakers are mobilizing to ensure that the Biden administration does not proceed with the sale and the upgrade of Turkey’s existing fleet.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of US legislators filed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prevent the sale if Turkey continues its territorial overflights and air space violations in the Aegean.

The amendment was submitted to Congress at the initiative of Greek-American member of parliament Chris Pappas and was co-signed by Dina Titus, Carolyn B. Maloney, Charlie Crist, and John Sarbanes.

Under this amendment, the US president is prohibited from transferring weapons to a NATO member country that has repeatedly violated the airspace or violated the sovereignty or territorial integrity of another NATO member country in the past year.

Gus Bilirakis: “Very disappointed” with Biden over F-16 issue

Speaking to Skai TV on Monday night, Congressman Gus Bilirakis said that he was “very disappointed” by the outcome of US President Joe Biden’s meeting in Madrid with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and stressed that an arms deal struck on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in the Spanish capital has to be prevented.

“We should not be selling any type of F-16 or any weapon to Turkey, or giving them any upgrades to their present F-16s,” said Bilirakis.

Greece is an outstanding ally to the United States, and other countries in the region, such as Cyprus and Israel,…and I don’t believe that Biden took that into consideration when he made that decision with Erdogan,” he added.

“I believe that we can fight this back. We’re going to do everything we can to prevent this sale,” said Bilirakis, who is also a member of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, which has been a vocal opponent of arms sales to Turkey.

However, he added, “Turkey, unfortunately, has a strong lobby in the United States; they give a lot of money to members of Congress and have a lot of influence over these administrations, and particularly now the Biden Administration.”

Senator Lindsey Graham “fully supports” the sale of F-16s to Turkey

Meanwhile, US Senator Lindsey Graham has said he fully supports the Biden administration’s decision to sell F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and will do all he can to secure a deal.

In a Twitter thread on Sunday, following a visit to Turkey over the weekend, Graham said he had a “productive trip” to the country.

“While we have had a problematic relationship at times, it is imperative Turkey and the US take steps to strengthen the ties between our two nations,” Graham wrote on Twitter.

“I will do all in my power to support the Biden Administration’s decision to sell F-16s to the Turkish Air Force,” Graham added in the thread.

“These fighter jets, in the hands of our NATO allies, will create a sense of stability,” said Graham, “and provide capability to the Turkish military that is most definitely in America’s national security interests.”

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