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Sunday, February 5th, 2023

U.S. Rep. Pallone urges Congress to block sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey

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Following up on a group letter from July 2022, United States Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) last week called for Congressional action to block any proposed transfer of U.S. F-16 fighter jets and their components to Turkey.

Pallone and more than 30 House colleagues had urged the Biden administration last year to halt the sale of the jets and pushed for the inclusion of an amendment under the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2023 to specifically bar their sale to Turkey, although both efforts failed. The administration subsequently sent an informal notice to Congress earlier this month of a potential $20 billion sale of such aircraft while Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Turkey first requested 40 Block 70 F-16 fighter jets and 80 modernization kits for their current fleet last year.

“Reports of the proposed sale of F-16s and upgrade kits to Turkey come as President Erdoğan continues to use divisive tactics for personal gain above the collective good of his allies,” Pallone said. “He has used vitriolic rhetoric advocating for the invasion of Greek and Cypriot sovereign territory and encouraged illegal overflights by Turkish jets. He supports human rights abuses and deadly actions in the region against U.S. allies and partners. And he continues to hold hostage the Finnish and Swedish applications to join NATO until his absurd and unrelated demands are met.”

Pallone also called out Turkey’s ongoing use of Russian S-400 missile defense systems, among other concerns. Instead, he said that the U.S. must provide no further support to Turkey’s military until it halts violations of international law at home and abroad.

“Conceding to these demands and selling advanced jets to Turkey will not incentivize Erdoğan to suddenly transform into a good ally or halt the vast number of human rights abuses committed by his regime,” Pallone said.

Turkey has been accused of committing war crimes in Syria, Iraq, and Nagorno-Karabakh, a region internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory. Pallone also blasted the Erdoğan regime for anti-democratic tactics used against Turkish citizens and for the pursuit of serious human rights abuses. He charged all this and more as actions that ignored Turkey’s commitments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).