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US Says Fighter Jet Sale to Turkey ‘In the Works’

US Says Fighter Jet Sale to Turkey ‘In the Works’
folder_openEurope... access_timeone month ago
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By Staff, Agencies

A senior Pentagon official voiced the US government’s support for Turkey’s efforts to modernize its air force, adding that his country could soon approve the sale of dozens of F-16 fighter jets.

Speaking to reporters during a remote press briefing on Wednesday, war secretary assistant for ‘International Security Affairs’ Celeste Wallander said the long-stalled sale may soon go ahead, months after Ankara requested 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16s and around 80 upgrade kits for its existing fleet.

“These plans are in the works” but still need to make their way through “contracting processes,” she said, adding that Washington is in favor of “Turkey’s modernization of its fighter fleet because that is a contribution to NATO security and therefore American security.”

Turkey’s request for the planes last October followed a heated dispute over the newest US fighter jet, the F-35, which Ankara helped to develop in a multinational procurement initiative. Though it had already spent some $1.4 billion on the aircraft, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian-made S-400 air defense systems in 2017 prompted a harsh reaction from Washington, which booted Ankara from the F-35 program and even placed sanctions on some officials involved in the S-400 sale.

The deal for F-16s and modernization kits was floated as a way for the United States to compensate its NATO ally, which has long maintained its own fleet of the older jets, though until Wednesday US officials had said little about the progress of the arrangement.