Congressional Hellenic Caucus Co-Chair Gus Bilirakis and Armenian Caucus Co-Chair Frank Pallone (D-NJ) were both joined by a bipartisan group of more than 50 U.S. Representatives in urging the U.S. Department of Defence and State to block the sale of advanced Block 70 F-16 fighter jets and modernisation kits, the Greek daily Kathimerini reported on Saturday.
"We strongly urge you to reject Turkey's request for new F-16s and modernisation kits and take immediate action to hold the Erdoğan regime accountable," read the Friday letter addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin.
"The United States must not provide any further support to Turkey's military until President Erdoğan takes tangible steps to halt his destabilising actions and violations of international law at home and abroad," the letter added. "Precedent show that he will not change his behaviour until the United States uses all its diplomatic tools, including targeted economic sanctions."
Turkey was expelled from the U.S. fifth-generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and banned from buying the advanced stealth fighter after it bought advanced S-400 air defence missile systems from Russia. Turkey had plans to buy up to 100 of those jets to modernise its air force.
In October, Ankara requested to buy 40 Block 70 F-16s, the most advanced version of that fighter, along with 80 modernisation kits to upgrade its older F-16s in a deal that would be worth billions. However, there has been widespread opposition to this deal in Congress due to Turkey's S-400 purchase and the various policies of the Erdoğan government.
"Congress is reminding Turkey that no amount of dinner parties and Twitter activity by Erdogan's Ambassador in D.C. will smooth over the fundamental policy differences that led to Turkey being denied advanced American weapons," said American Hellenic Leadership Council Executive Director Endy Zemenides.
"Congress is right in demanding a change of substance, not merely of style."