May, 14

    US Senator ‘Green Lights’ F-35 Stealth Fighters For Greece; Threatens To Halt Sale Of F-16 Jets To Turkey

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    A US Senator, Bob Menendez, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has reportedly announced that he has given the go-ahead for the sale of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fifth-generation fighter jets to Greece. 

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    Menendez, who has also threatened to halt the sale of fighter jets to Turkey unless it “adjusts its behavior,” stated the development on February 8 at the Delphi Economic Forum in Washington. 

    “I am pleased that two days ago I signed off for the F35-s to the Hellenic Republic, and I did so not because I am simply a fan of the Greek people; I did so because this is a country that shares our values, that is aligned with us to things that are important in the world; democracy, human rights, the rule of law, a country that is not belligerent to its neighbors,” Menendez was quoted as saying by Greece-based eKathimerini daily. 

    The senator said it would have been the same for any other nation whose values and interests align with those of the US. He, therefore, had no justification for declining the arms sales in his capacity as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. 

    ALSO READ: ‘Equivalent To Six F-35 Stealth Fighters’, US Congressman Urges Biden To Send B-21 Stealth Bombers To Australia

    However, Senator Jim Risch, the committee’s senior Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the committee’s top Democrat, must all provide their approval of this decision. 

    However, Senator Jim Risch, the committee’s senior Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York, the committee’s top Democrat, must all provide their approval of this decision. 

    Upon reaching the consensus, which is expected to take some time, the US administration will officially notify Congress of the sale of F-35s to Greece. This will allow Congress to set up the official ratification process. 

    Greece submitted a Letter of Request for 20 F-35A fighters to Washington, DC, via the American embassy in Athens in June 2022. That was the first step in a multi-step process to obtain stealth fighters.

    Menendez is opposed to providing Turkey with any American weapons because of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s relations with Russia and his crackdown on the country’s independent media and opposition groups.



    US Looks To Sell Turkey F-16s And Greece F-35s

    Greece has actively campaigned against Ankara’s bid to buy several F-16 fighter jets. 

    On January 30, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that the United States has not given Turkey the promised F-35 fighter jets, nor has it reimbursed the $1.4 billion it had spent to purchase the jets.

    Erdogan also noted that discussions on the delivery of F-16s have come to a halt. In January, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Ankara is seeking US authorization to sell F-16 fighter jets.

    On the other hand, the Biden administration seeks congressional approval to sell fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II stealth aircraft to Greece and modernized F-16s to Turkey.


    These multibillion-dollar acquisitions will likely significantly impact the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean’s power dynamics if authorized.

    Turkey first requested to buy 40 brand-new F-16 Block 70 aircraft and 79 modernization kits for its existing F-16s in a $20 billion deal in October 2021. Turkey was removed from the F-35 program after receiving Russia’s S-400 air defense missile systems.

    President Joe Biden has consistently expressed his support for selling Turkey brand-new F-16s and confidence that he can secure congressional approval. 


    File:Turkish Air Force F-16C Block 50 (cropped).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
    Turkish Air Force F-16C- Wikimedia Commons

    At the June 2022 NATO summit in Madrid, he declared that the sale of F-16s would not serve as a “quid pro quo” for Sweden and Finland’s acceptance into the alliance, which needs the unanimous consent of all member nations.

    However, on February 3, a bipartisan coalition of 29 senators urged US President Joe Biden to postpone Turkey’s $20 billion purchase of F-16 fighter jets until Ankara consents to Sweden and Finland’s membership in NATO.

    According to a recent report from The Wall Street Journal, the US administration believes that by securing approval for the Turkish F-16 purchase, Ankara will end its opposition to Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership.

    Turkey has been denied entry into NATO by both Nordic nations, demanding they cut all relations with various Kurdish groups.

    Nevertheless, the acquisition of F-35s by Greece, along with the ongoing purchase of two dozen 4.5-generation Dassault Rafale F3R fighters from Paris and the upgrade of the majority of its F-16 fleet to the most advanced Block 72 configuration, will give the Hellenic Air Force a technological advantage over its much larger Turkish counterpart. 


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