U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration notified Congress on Monday of the planned sale to Turkey of avionics software upgrades for its current fleet of F-16 fighter aircraft, a deal valued at up to $259 million, Reuters reports.
The deal moves ahead with the sale of the modernization package for Turkey’s aircraft, after leaders of U.S. congressional committees gave informal approval.
A larger agreement, NATO member Turkey’s request to buy billions of dollars worth of F-16s, remains in limbo amid continuing opposition in Congress.
If it is cleared by Congress during the formal approval process, the package would be the first major military sale to Turkey that Congress has approved for years.
“Türkiye is a longstanding and valued NATO ally,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. “The Biden Administration supports Türkiye’s efforts to bring the avionics of its F-16 fleet up to standard.”
The spokesperson noted that the upgrade will improve the interoperability between Turkish and NATO systems by updating its communications and also provide upgrades to enhance safety measures such as a ground collision avoidance system.
The F-16 modernization deal follows Turkey approving Finland’s accession to the NATO military alliance and signs of easing tensions between Turkey and neighbor Greece ahead of Turkish elections next month.