A total of 41 members of the US House of Representatives have sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken opposing the sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey.
The bipartisan letter was drafted on the initiative of Democratic Representative Chris Pappas, of New Hampshire, and the co-chairs of the Hellenic Caucus, Gus Bilirakis, a Republican from Florida, and Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat from New York.
The letter notes that the United States has already slapped sanctions on Turkey under the Countering American Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) over its acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 missile system. Turkey has been ejected from the F-35 program and cannot purchase that advanced fighter.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has defiantly announced his intention to purchase additional S-400s; he has also sent a Letter of Intent requesting the acquisition of 40 F-16 fighters and nearly 80 Block 70 modernization kits for its existing fighters.
The letter reminds Blinken that his own nominee for Ambassador to turkey, former Republican Senator Jeff Flake, declared, during his confirmation hearing, that additional sanctions under CAATSA should be imposed on Turkey should it buy more S-400s and warns the administration against circumventing the sanctions by “trying to sell the jets to an entity other than Turkey’s SSB [Presidency of Defense Industries], which has been sanctioned.”
“Even considering Turkey’s (Letter of Request) under the present circumstances sends the wrong signal to Turkey and gives it a reason to doubt our resolve while continuing to develop its military relationship with Russia,” the Representatives say. “We share your goal of a Turkey that is rooted to the West, but we will not achieve that goal if the Erdogan government escapes accountability for violating U.S. law and the standards of the NATO alliance,” they add.