U.S. Congress has approved the $23B sale of 40 F-16 fighter jets, 79 upgraded models, missiles and bombs to Turkey, nearly three weeks Ankara ratified Sweden’s membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“Congress’ decision to approve Turkiye’s acquisition of 40 new and 79 upgraded F-16 aircraft is a great step forward,” said U.S. ambassador to Turkey Jeff Flake. “Turkiye’s F-16 fleet is critical to NATO’s strength, ensuring future interoperability among Allies.”
The sale will allow Turkey to eventually retire its aging F-4 aircraft and modernize its F-16 fleet, manufactured by Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT). Turkey has the third largest F-16 fleet in the world, after the U.S. and Israel.
Trump’s NATO threat
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg slammed U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump’s threat of encouraging Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” if it attacked a NATO member that didn’t contribute enough to the alliance.
“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” Stoltenberg warned. “I expect that regardless of who wins the presidential election, the U.S. will remain a strong and committed NATO ally.”
The stern response came after former president Trump at a rally recalled an exchange from his time in office with the leader of a “big country,” who asked if the U.S. would protect the nation from a Russia attack. “I said: ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’ No, I would not protect you.”
The White House also pushed back against the threat. “Encouraging invasions of our closest allies by murderous regimes is appalling and unhinged,” said spokesperson Andrew Bates.