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U.S. approves F-16 sale to Turkiye, F-35 to Greece after Turkiye ratifies Sweden’s entry to NATO

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FILE PHOTO: An F-16 fighter jet takes off throughout a media day of NATO’s “Air Defender 23” army train at Spangdahlem U.S. Air Base close to the German-Belgian border in Spangdahlem, Germany June 14, 2023. REUTERS/Jana Rodenbusch/File Photo
| Photo Credit: JANA RODENBUSCH

The Biden administration has permitted the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkiye following the Turkish authorities’s ratification this week of Sweden’s membership in NATO. The transfer is a big growth within the enlargement of the alliance, which has taken on further significance since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The State Department notified Congress of its approval of the $23 billion F-16 sale to Turkiye, together with a companion $8.6 billion sale of superior F-35 fighter jets to Greece, late Friday. The transfer got here simply hours after Turkiye deposited its “instrument of ratification” for Sweden’s accession to NATO with Washington, which is the repository for alliance paperwork and after a number of key members of Congress lifted their objections.

The sale to Turkiye consists of 40 new F-16s and tools to modernise 79 of its present F-16 fleet. The sale to Greece consists of 40 F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and associated tools.

NATO ally Turkiye has lengthy sought to improve its F-16 fleet and had made its ratification of Sweden’s membership contingent on the approval of the sale of the brand new planes. The Biden administration had supported the sale, however a number of lawmakers had expressed objections on account of human rights issues.

Those objections, together with from the chairman and rating member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sens. Ben Cardin, D-Md., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, have now been overcome, officers mentioned.

Cardin mentioned in assertion Friday that he had nonetheless had issues about Turkiye’s rights document, however had agreed to the sale based mostly on commitments Turkiye has made to enhance it. “I look forward to beginning this new chapter in our relationship with Turkiye, expanding the NATO alliance, and working with our global allies in standing up to ongoing Russian aggression against its peaceful neighbours,” he mentioned.

Turkiye had delayed its approval of Sweden’s NATO membership for greater than a 12 months, ostensibly as a result of it believed Sweden didn’t take Turkiye’s nationwide safety issues critically sufficient, together with its combat in opposition to Kurdish militants and different teams that Ankara considers to be safety threats.

The delays had annoyed the US, and different NATO allies, nearly all of whom had been swift to simply accept each Sweden and Finland into the alliance after the Nordic states dropped their longstanding army neutrality following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Sweden’s formal accession to NATO now will depend on Hungary, which is the final remaining NATO ally to not have permitted its membership. US and NATO officers have mentioned they anticipate Hungary to behave shortly, particularly after Turkiye’s choice.

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