Washington is set to proceed with a $23 billion sale of F-16 warplanes, missiles, and bombs to Turkey following Ankara’s acceptance of Sweden’s NATO bid.
The sale would see as many as 40 of the latest-gen Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70/72 aircraft, 79 upgrade kits, and hundreds of bombs and missiles toward the NATO ally’s fleet.
US ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake described the sale as a “great step forward.” He said, “Turkiye’s F-16 fleet is critical to NATO’s strength, ensuring future interoperability among Allies.” The sale was approved by the Biden administration two weeks ago.
F-16 sales to Turkey were tied to Sweden’s acceptance to becoming a member of the NATO military alliance, something that hinged on Turkey and Hungary’s final approval following months-long delays. But Bloomberg has still noted that “strains remain over Turkey’s use of Russian air defenses.”
Turkey accepted Sweden’s bid last month, ending a 20-month delay. Now, the Scandinavian nation only has Budapest in its way.
“We support NATO enlargement to improve the alliance’s deterrence efforts […] We hope Finland and Sweden’s attitude towards fighting terrorism sets an example for our other allies,” head of parliament’s foreign affairs commission and ruling AK Party member, Fuat Oktay, said previously.
Ankara’s procurement of the newer F-16 would allow it to replace its older F-4 jets and modernize NATO’s largest F-16 fleet after the US, as the intergovernmental military alliance is conducting massive military exercises.
On January 18, NATO announced that it would hold its largest military exercise since the Cold War, dubbed “Steadfast Defender 2024.” This would include all 31 member states, including future-member Sweden.
#BüyükelçiFlake: “Kongre’nin bu hafta, Türkiye’nin 40 yeni ve 79 modernize edilmiş F-16 uçağı satın almasını onaylama kararı ileriye doğru atılmış önemli bir adımdır. Türkiye’nin F-16 filosu, NATO’nun gücü açısından hayati önem taşımakta, Müttefikler’in gelecekte birlikte… pic.twitter.com/4r8kPssQ5j
— U.S. Embassy Türkiye (@USEmbassyTurkey) February 11, 2024
The military exercise would involve 90,000 troops, at least 1,100 combat vehicles, 80 warplanes, and 50 warships.
“Exercise Steadfast Defender 2024 will be the largest NATO exercise in decades, with participation from approximately 90,000 forces from all 31 Allies and our good partner Sweden,” Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Christopher Cavoli said.
Tue, 02/13/2024 – 02:00
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Author: Tyler Durden
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