Democrat Senator and Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez clarified that he will not approve the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
He added that the final text of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was not a victory for Turkey.
“Contrary to some claims, the NDAA is not a win for Turkey,” Menendez said. “This is just one of many tools we have at our disposal in the Senate to deal with arms sales. I’ll say it again. As SFRC Chairman, I will NOT approve F-16s for Turkey until Erdogan halts his abuses across the region.”
Frank Pallone, U.S. representative for New Jersey’s 6th congressional district, expressed his support for Menendez’s stance:
Congress must use every tool available to prevent the sale of F-16s to Turkey. I will continue to work with Chair Menendez and my other colleagues to halt potential US security assistance to the human rights abusing Erdogan regime.
I strongly agree with @SFRCdems. Congress must use every tool available to prevent the sale of F-16s to Turkey. I will continue to work with Chair Menendez and my other colleagues to halt potential US security assistance to the human rights abusing Erdogan regime. https://t.co/oxrK6ZKPdp
— Rep. Frank Pallone (@FrankPallone) December 8, 2022
Menendez: We have many tools to stop F-16 sales to Turkey
In October, Menendez said he would not approve any F-16 sales to Turkey until President Tayyip Erdogan halts his campaign of aggression across the region.
He was responding to the news that the U.S. Senate has dropped two important amendments for the potential sale of F-16 jets to Turkey from its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
The NDAA amendment is only one tool at our disposal to advance US interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, he added.
US lawmakers have removed a provision in an annual defense spending bill that would have imposed limits on the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in a potential boost for Ankara’s efforts to upgrade its air force.
The final text of the 2023 NDAA, finalized on Tuesday night, does not include a provision added in July conditioning the sale of F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits to Turkey by the US. This condition stipulated that the sale of the F-16s would be completed if Turkey verified they would not be used for illegal territorial overflights of neighboring Greece.
Turkey made a request in October 2021 to buy forty Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and nearly eighty modernization kits from the US for its existing warplanes.
Turkey has, however, faced resistance to the purchase, with many US lawmakers citing Turkey’s position vis-a-vis Greece in a series of maritime and territorial disputes as a point of concern.
Furthermore, the explanatory text accompanying the $858 billion defense policy bill mentions that “North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies should not conduct unauthorized territorial overflights of another NATO ally’s airspace.”
The statement was seen as a warning to Turkey over its systematic airspace violations and overflights in the Aegean.