US President Joe Biden’s administration was expected to give the green light for the long-awaited sale of defense modernization kits to Turkiye ahead of key Turkish elections on May 14.
The package, which Turkiye had requested in October 2021 for its existing F-16 aircraft fleet, will include radars and avionics software upgrades, Reuters reported.
The process had remained in limbo as a result of several breakdowns in relations between Washington and Ankara.
America’s move is believed to be related to Turkiye’s recent approval of Finland’s NATO membership bid and ongoing de-escalation of tensions with its neighbor Greece.
However, a planned $20 billion sale of new Lockheed Martin F-16 fighters to Turkiye will not be included in the package. That deal has yet to be approved by the US Congress.
The US State Department was now expected to send formal notification to Congress for the sale of $259 million worth of modernization kits after congressional committee leaders recently gave informal approval for the sale.
Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Arab News: “(The US move) tells the Turkish government that if it wins the elections in a fair way, more may come in at the following stage.
“It also tells the opposition that if it wins, it should favor a reset in Turkish-US relations and develop strong ties with Washington by setting the S-400 (Russian missile system) issue.
“Therefore, the US signals that this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what it can do together with the opposition if it wins. So, this is a sort of carrot simultaneously,” Cagaptay added.
If Congress gives formal approval to the process, the modernization package will be the first major military deal with Turkiye that it has agreed in years, with Lockheed Martin Corp. being the main contractor.
Source : Arab News