WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) led a bipartisan letter with Congressman Gus M. Bilirakis (FL-12) and over 50 leaders from the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues and the Congressional Hellenic Caucus. In a letter to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, the lawmakers strongly urge them to reject a request from the Republic of Turkey to purchase next-generation F-16 fighter jets and upgrade kits from the United States.
“The purchase of advanced fighter jets from the United States for Turkey’s military arsenal will not incentivize Erdoğan to change course and become a good actor. It will more likely lead to further death and destruction in the region at the hands of his military,” the lawmakers wrote. “Turkey also continues to utilize S-400 missile defense systems, which potentially exposes important tactical information about U.S. weaponry and military operations to Russia. While this is antithetical to their commitments as a NATO ally and jeopardizes American national security, Erdoğan uses this tactic consistently to pit the United States and Russia against each other to achieve his desired goals.”
Erdoğan has demonstrated a willingness to provide support to authoritarian regimes in acts of war. Last September, Turkey actively aided Azerbaijan and foreign mercenaries in a deadly invasion of Artsakh that led to six weeks of devastating fighting that killed more than5,000 people and forced more than 100,000 ethnic Armenians to flee their homes. Artsakh and Armenia continue to grapple with an ongoing humanitarian crisis that resulted from the invasion.
Reports of Turkey’s request surfaced after President Biden and President Erdoğan met on the sidelines of the G-20 summit last fall. If approved, this sale will encourage Turkey’s destabilizing actions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East, South Caucasus, and Northern Africa. The sale would also allow Erdoğan to further ignore his commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and continue his ongoing human rights abuses at home.
A copy of the letter is available here.