Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today called for Congressional action to immediately block any proposed transfer of U.S. fighter jets and components to Turkey. Reports suggest that the Biden Administration sent an informal notice of the potential $20 billion sale to Congress late last week as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is set to meet with Secretary Blinken today in Washington, D.C.
“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.
“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. Nor will following through with this sale compel him to suddenly halt Turkey’s utilization of Russian S-400 missile defense systems and come into compliance with the CAATSA sanctions regime meant to hold America’s and NATO’s enemies accountable. The United States must not provide any further support to Turkey’s military until tangible steps are taken to halt his destabilizing actions and violations of international law at home and abroad.
“Building on our efforts to include an amendment in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act last year, I will continue to work with Congressional allies like Chairman Bob Menendez and my colleagues on the Hellenic Caucus to take every action afforded to us to prevent the sale from moving forward.”
If approved, the sale of a next-generation F-16s to Turkey will allow President Erdoğan to continue his destabilizing actions in the region and ignore his commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Turkish and Turkish-backed forces have repeatedly taken aggressive, deadly actions against U.S. allies and partners in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, South Caucasus, and North Africa for years – often utilizing American-made weaponry and components to carry out these incursions and commit war crimes in Syria, Iraq, and Nagorno-Karabakh. The Erdoğan regime also continues to commit serious human rights abuses and use anti-democratic tactics to repress religious, ethnic, and political minorities at home and abroad.
Reports of the United States’ intent to move forward with the sale were confirmed by Congressional sources late last week. Turkey first initiated the request for 40 Block 70 F-16 fighter jets and 80 modernization kits for their current fleet in the fall of last year.
Congressman Pallone previously led a letter with over 30 House colleagues in July calling on the Biden Administration to stop the sale of F-16s. He subsequently pushed for inclusion of an amendment to block the F-16 sale in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2023.