F-16 Fighter Jets Sale to Turkey Approved by U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate has rejected a bid to halt the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. The proposed $23 billion sale, which includes modernization kits, was approved by President Joe Biden's administration after Turkey gave its consent for Sweden to join the NATO alliance. The Senate voted 79 to 13 against a resolution of disapproval introduced by Republican Senator Rand Paul. Prior to the vote, Senator Paul criticized the Turkish government and argued that allowing the sale would encourage its "misbehavior." However, supporters of the sale emphasized the importance of Washington honoring its commitments to a NATO ally.


Despite the defeat of the bid, concerns remain about the ability of manufacturers to meet the strong demand for new planes amid ongoing supply chain issues. This is particularly relevant as Boeing, one of the major aircraft manufacturers, is grappling with quality control problems and regulatory scrutiny. These issues came to light after a panel on one of its MAX 9 jets blew out during a flight on January 5.

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The sale of the F-16s to Turkey had been delayed for several months due to issues including Turkey's initial refusal to approve Sweden's accession to the NATO alliance. Turkey first requested to make the purchase in October 2021. The U.S. Arms Export Control Act gives Congress the right to stop a major weapons sale by passing a resolution of disapproval in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. However, no such resolution has both passed Congress and survived a presidential veto in the half-century since the law has been in effect.

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Sweden and Finland applied to enter NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. While Finland's membership was finalized last year, Sweden's bid had been held up by Turkey and Hungary. All NATO members need to approve applications from countries seeking to join the alliance. This decision by the U.S. Senate marks a significant moment in international relations and defense trade. It underscores the complexities of geopolitical alliances and the global arms trade, even as it raises questions about the future of aircraft manufacturing and the dynamics of NATO membership.

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