ISTANBUL, February 12. /TASS/. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has confirmed that the US Congress has given a go-ahead to the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Ankara. He was speaking on the TRT Haber TV channel after the government’s meeting, held in Ankara under his chairmanship.
The congressional approval of the deal to sell Turkey 40 new and 79 upgraded F-16 planes was announced last Sunday by the US ambassador to Ankara, Jeffrey Flake.
"We are pleased that our request regarding F-16s ended with a positive decision from the US. After the restrictions are lifted, the Turkish defense industry will be developing more intensively," Erdogan said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said earlier that he expected a decision on the fighter jets from the US Congress by February 10. He noted that there was a preliminary agreement between Ankara and Washington to the effect the US would act on the sale of the F-16s after the Turkish parliament approved Sweden's application to join NATO. The legislature approved Stockholm's ratification protocol in January.
Turkey several years ago requested 40 F-16 Block 70 fighter jets and 80 Block 70 upgrade kits from the US for the aircraft already at its disposal. As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously stated, some members of the US Congress had called for pegging such deliveries to Ankara's steps paving the way for Sweden's accession to NATO.