A broad coalition of activists is taking action to pressure the US Congress not accept the upgrade or purchase of new fighter jets F-16 from Turkey.
In a joint letter to the Senate Defense and Foreign Relations Committees, members of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), as well as Armenian, Indian and Kurdish organizations, expressed concern about the risks which carries such an action for US national security and call members of Congress to take action.
As they characteristically note, the acquisition and persistence of maintaining the Russian system S-400 is a negative turning point for US-Turkish relations, reports APE BPE.
In addition, the letter emphasizes that the Russian system is incompatible for security reasons with the upgraded F-16s and that any attempt to sell significant defense weapons to Turkey would constitute a circumvention of US law and the expressed will of Congress.
The Letter of the Activist Organizations
“We are writing because of the numerous articles in the American and international press regarding Turkey’s request to buy 40 F-16 fighter jets and upgrade almost 80 of the ones it already owns.
As a coalition of civic groups representing Americans across our nation, we have long shared the concerns you have expressed about the national security risks to the United States as a result of Turkey’s dramatic withdrawal from the Western Alliance and its allies. democracy and the rule of law.
The initial purchase of Russian S-400s from Ankara – combined with its continued insistence on retaining them despite a clear breach of the US Enemy Sanctions Act (CAATSA) – represents a turning point in our bilateral relationship. We totally agree with the remarks you made in 2019 in your statement to the New York Times, “an American fighter jet or a Russian missile system. Not both “and we believe that these same principles should apply to prevent any possible sale of F-16s to Turkey.
Recall that – despite Turkey’s open hostility to the United States and its allies – the previous administration imposed CAATSA sanctions on Turkey only when it became clear that Congress was going to intervene through last year’s defense budget bill.
Even now, it seems, there are still senior officials in the Foreign and Defense Ministries who are wrongly seeking to find a loophole in the law to circumvent CAATSA sanctions and allow the reckless sale of new F-16s and upgrades to Turkey.
We believe this is incompatible with the CAATSA Act, as well as with the broader legislative intent of Congress, which passed this law with overwhelming cross-party support and kept the new US arms markets on ice in an increasingly malicious Turkey. Ankara has not only pursued the acquisition of Russian S-400s, but has promised to acquire or even participate in the production of more. With no indication that there is a visible end to the persistent violation of US law and policy by Turkey, there is no reason to even consider Turkey’s request.
We would also like to point out that a wide range of experts from Turkey have raised serious concerns about this potential market. Aaron Stein of the Foreign Policy Research Institute noted that the block 70 upgrades share some common sensors with the F-35. This raises the same concerns that you expressed in your opinion article in the New York Times and endangers the American fighter pilots and fighter pilots of our allies who fly upgraded F-16s. In addition, Turkey has used American weapons in a way that is incompatible with American values and interests. As noted by Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, Turkey does not use the F-16 fleet to “defend the Turkish homeland, but to threaten the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea and bomb the Yazidis in Sinjar and so on.”
Access to US weapons systems, including upgraded F-16s, is a privilege that Turkey should gain, not a pre-emptive right. This access must be frozen until Turkey proves that it is in line with US law, and honors US values, interests and alliances.
“We urge you to reiterate your opposition to the sale or transfer of F-16s or any major weapons system in Turkey.”