U.S. made no financing offer to Turkey for purchase of F-16s

The United States has not made any offer to Turkey for financing the purchase of F-16 fighter jets, the State Department said on Monday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Sunday that the United States had proposed selling Turkey F-16s to offset its investment in the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, from which Ankara was expelled after it purchased S-400 air defence missiles from Russia in 2019.

“We would refer you to the Turkish government to speak to its defence procurement plans,” Ned Price, spokesman for the State Department, told reporters. “What I can say is the United States has not made any financing offers on Turkey’s F-16 request.”

Erdoğan said Turkey was seeking a return on its investment in the programme to develop the F-35 and that talks with the United States were ongoing.

“There is the payment of the $1.4 billion we made for the F-35s and the U.S. had such a proposal in return for these payments,” he said.

Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s triggered U.S. sanctions against its defence industry in December last year. Washington has called on Ankara to drop any plans to purchase more of the missiles or risk further punitive measures.

“The Department of Defense, I should say – remains in consultation with Turkey on an F-35 dispute resolution. Turkish officials have publicly acknowledged their interest in purchasing F-16 aircraft,” Price said.

The U.S. Congress has made bi-partisan calls for the Biden administration to put further political pressure on the Turkish government for the S-400 purchase and its human rights record.  

“We don’t speak to any defence sales or transfers until and unless they’re notified to Congress,” Price said.

Turkey is prepared to consider purchasing Russian-made Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets should it fail to reach an agreement with the United States on the delivery of  F-16 fighter jets, Ismail Demir, the head of the country’s Defence Industries Presidency, said on Monday.

"The issue of Su-35 and Su-57 planes may surface again at any time," he said of Turkey’s previous interest in the acquisitions.

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