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Sunday April 14, 2024

Turkiye receives US draft letters approving F-16 jets deal

By REUTERS
March 01, 2024
F-16 fighter jet. — AFP File
F-16 fighter jet. — AFP File

ANKARA: The United States has sent Turkiye draft letters of offer and acceptance regarding its request to buy Block-70 F-16 fighter jets and modernisation kits, Turkiye’s defence ministry spokesperson said on Thursday.

Turkiye made the request in October 2021, two years after the United States kicked Turkiye out of the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet programme over its procurement of a Russian missile defence system.

The US administration finally agreed to conclude the delayed deal after a series of negotiations following Ankara’s approval of Sweden’s Nato membership bid.

US President Joe Biden’s administration formally informed the Congress of its intention to proceed with the $23 billion sale of the Lockheed Martin LMT.N jets in January.

The sale was considered final earlier this month when the Congress did not block the sale within 15 days.“Our ministry has received the draft letters of offer and acceptance sent by the US for the sale of 40 new Block-70 F-16s and 79 modernisation kits and ammunition and equipment for them. (We) have started the necessary examination and evaluation,” ministry spokesperson Rear Admiral Zeki Akturk told reporters.

After Turkiye’s review of the draft letters, officials from the two countries are expected to meet to finalise the deal.

Turkiye is one of the largest operators of the F-16 jets, with its fleet made up of more than 200 older Block 30/40/50 models.

Relations between the two Nato allies have gained significant momentum on which they can capitalise, US Senator Chris Murphy said last week after meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan.