Asks Congress to ‘green light’ missile sales
The US President Joe Biden’s administration has asked Congress to “green light” a proposed sale of missiles and equipment upgrades to Turkey, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.
The deal, said to be worth about $300 million, is expected to further deepen defense ties between the NATO allies.
However, the proposed deal is not part of a $6 billion agreement that Turkey has been seeking since last year to buy 40 Lockheed Martin F-16 jets and 80 kits to upgrade its existing fleet.
The US administration’s informal notification process allows members of Congress to review the transaction and provide feedback before the deal is finalized, reports Arab News.
Turkey’s purchase and deployment of Russian-made S-400 defense missile systems in 2017 resulted in the country’s removal from the US F-35 fighter jet program in 2019 over concerns that the Russian radar system would spy on the aircraft.
This move pushed some US lawmakers to lobby against a weapons sale and equipment upgrade to Turkey. On Friday, seven advocacy groups focusing on US interests in the Caucasus, Mediterranean and Middle East also pressed Congress to “apply the strictest scrutiny to any potential sale” to Turkey.
However, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shaking up regional balances, NATO solidarity and consolidation of defense capabilities have become priorities.
Turkey’s support for Ukraine through exports of Bayraktar TB2 drones and its role as a facilitator of peace talks between the two sides have helped Ankara improve its frayed image on Capitol Hill.
“Turkey is proving itself to be a key, helpful and strategic ally of the US,” Karen Donfried, assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia affairs, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing.