Turkey rejects F-16 conditionality, says U.S. lawmakers ‘stirring things up’
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said some U.S. congressmen were "stirring things up” after President Joe Biden said he supported selling F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
"We expect the United States not to fall for this game," Akar said, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The House of Representatives has placed restrictions on Turkey's proposed purchase of F-16 fighter jets and modernisation kits, approving a draft amendment by Democratic representatives Frank Pallone and Chris Pappas to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last Thursday.
"How can you explain this? A lawmaker, a group is coming out and stirring things up through certain manipulations and disinformation," Akar said. "There shouldn't be a conditional issue like 'I'll give you this, but you won't do this'… Our wish is for common sense to prevail.”
The amendment would prevent Washington from selling or transferring the F-16s to Turkey unless the U.S. administration “certifies that doing so is essential to U.S. national security,” and so long as Turkey does not make unauthorised overflights of Greece with the new planes.
Talks between Washington and Ankara over the sale of the weapons were ongoing and U.S. officials were aware of NATO ally Turkey’s importance in counter terrorism and migration, Akar said.
Last year, Turkey made an official request to purchase 40 F-16s and almost 80 modernisation kits for its existing fleet. Biden backed the sale of the weapons to Turkey in a statement at a NATO summit in Madrid on June 30.
In December 2020, the United States excluded Turkey from a programme to develop and purchase F-35 stealth fighter jets after it acquired S-400 air defence systems from Russia the previous year.
Turkey is embroiled in a dispute with Greece over the status of Greek islands close to its shoreline, with both sides accusing the other of frequent illegal overflights. The two neighbouring NATO members are also at odds over rights to explore for hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean, migration and the ethnically split island of Cyprus.