Ankara Hopes for Success in F-16 Deal With US, Turkish Defence Minister Says

© Sputnik / Alexander Kovalev / Go to the mediabankUS Air Force F-16 fighter jet
US Air Force F-16 fighter jet - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.05.2022
ANKARA (Sputnik) - Turkey is hoping that the procurement of American F-16 fighter jets will be authorised by Washington, yet the situation remains uncertain, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday.
Speaking with Turkish broadcaster Haberturk, Akar pointed to a letter on the issue sent by the US State Department to the US Congress in March, saying it contained promising moments. However, according to the minister, Washington's ultimate position remains unclear.
"This is a lengthy process. We hope that it will result positively. Is it possible for the F-16 issue to have a positive outcome? It is possible... But is it for sure? No. We are watching the developments closely. If we purchase new F-16s, it will support our air force until we produce our national combat aircraft," Akar said.
The leaked letter of the US State Department to Congress, which opposed the F-16 procurement by Turkey, contained the Biden administration's view of the merits of the deal. Notably, the letter called for the endorsement of the purchase since defence trade ties with Turkey contribute to both the US national security interests and "compelling long-term NATO alliance unity and capability interests."
Last year, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the US suggested that Ankara procure the fourth generation of the F-16 fighter jets instead of the fifth generation F-35s. In 2019, the US suspended Turkey's participation in its F-35 program over Ankara's purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system and later completely removed it from the project.
The US Congress has yet to approve the F-16 deal, with the situation being complicated by reports that Greece is exerting pressure on the US so that Washington does not sell upgraded F-16 combat aircraft to Turkey, citing its own security concerns.
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