Turkey Demands American F-16s in Exchange for Approving Sweden’s NATO Membership Bid

Photo: Turkey Demands American F-16s in Exchange for Approving Sweden's NATO Membership Bid. Source: Collage The Gaze \ by Leonid Lukashenko

Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has expressed hope that the US Congress will take steps to approve the sale of F-16 aircraft to Turkey. Erdogan is confident that this should happen “simultaneously” with the Turkish Parliament ratifying Sweden’s NATO membership application, as reported by the Financial Times.

The ratification of Sweden’s NATO membership in the Turkish Parliament is expected to be considered from October when Erdogan submitted the relevant document. Currently, the Turkish leader has stated that he has fulfilled his “duty” and now awaits a positive decision from the US Congress regarding Turkey’s purchase of F-16 fighter jets and associated billion-dollar upgrade packages.

“As president, I submitted Sweden’s NATO membership application to parliament, and you thanked me. I fulfilled my duty, but I expect something from you… You must concurrently address the F-16 issue through your Congress,” Erdogan stated.

It is known that US President Joe Biden supports the sale of F-16s to Turkey, but there is still opposition to this decision in Congress. In particular, Ben Cardin, the chair of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, stated that Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO application was just one of several issues hindering the approval of the fighter jet purchase.

The delay in deciding on the sale of F-16s is also attributed to increased tension in relations between Ankara and Washington following the Hamas attack on Israel. The US strongly supported Israel’s right to self-defense, while Erdogan accused Israel of committing “war crimes” in Gaza, criticized Washington’s support for the Jewish state, and referred to Hamas as a “liberation” movement.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billström confirmed last month that the latest issue regarding Sweden’s NATO accession is the sale of F-16s to Turkey by the US. Billström emphasized that the connection between Turkey’s approval of Sweden’s NATO accession and the purchase of F-16s, previously reported by the media citing sources, is no longer a secret. He added that Sweden has fulfilled all obligations to become a full member of the Alliance and expects Turkey to complete the process.

Media reports also indicated that Turkey has informally discussed the purchase of 40 Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets with European states, as it doubts that the US will eventually approve the sale of F-16s.