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F-16 sale to Turkey to proceed following Senate vote

Defence Technology

F-16 sale to Turkey to proceed following Senate vote

On Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly rejected a resolution 13-79 that sought to halt the $23 billion F-16 sale to Turkey, which the Biden administration had authorized earlier this month.

For a number of years, Turkey has attempted to halt the deal, which comprises 40 brand-new Lockheed Martin F-16s and modification kits for 79 of its current fleet's fighter aircraft. After more than a year of delay, the State Department finally authorized the sale after Turkey ratified Sweden's NATO membership.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican, forced the vote on the resolution to stop the sale on Thursday, citing serious violations of human rights, arbitrary executions, strange deaths of people under arrest, torture, arbitrary arrests, and the ongoing incarceration of tens of thousands of people.

In light of Turkey's recent reckless military actions, Paul stated on the Senate floor prior to the vote that he too was extremely concerned about the sale's potential negative strategic ramifications.

Paul mentioned that in October, in northeastern Syria—where American troops support forces with a Kurdish majority—a Turkish drone was shot down by a U.S. F-16. Ankara views this as a terrorist act. He also brought up Turkey's 2020 F-16 deployment to Azerbaijan in the midst of that country's conflict with Armenia over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Following his approval of the sale last month, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, defended it on the floor. Cardin maintained that Turkey's NATO capabilities needed to be updated and that Sweden's NATO membership was strategically dependent on Russia's invasion of Ukraine. According to him, the sale will enable Turkey to replace its outdated F-16 aircraft with a more competent, US-compliant variant.

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