Greek, Jewish lobbies oppose US F16 sale to Turkey

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The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) have sent a joint letter to US Congress urging to block the sale of F16 fighters to Turkey.

Battle lines are being drawn in the US Congress for the proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey as Greek-American lawmakers are mobilising to ensure that the Biden administration does not proceed with the sale and the upgrade of Turkey’s existing fleet.

Turkey also has a strong lobby in the United States with key supporters in Congress and influence in the Biden Administration.

Greek and Jewish lobbyists also want Congress to support an amendment to the National Defence Authorisation Act, filed last week by Democratic Congressman Chris Papas, demanding a ban on the military sale.

“Turkish violations of Greek sovereign airspace and armed flyovers over islands in the Aegean are at dangerous levels, posing a real threat to peace and stability in the region,” said the letter.

It added: “Turkey holds provocative and dangerous naval exercises – sometimes with live ammunition – in Greek territorial waters and around inhabited islands.

“Despite these aggressive provocations by the Erdogan government, the US administration has signalled openness to considering a request made by the Republic of Turkey to purchase 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernisation kits; for its existing enormous fleet of warplanes.”

Critics argue that selling Turkey new F-16s and upgrade kits would undermine American law, values, and security interests.

“Turkey has already used its existing fleet of American F-16s to violate Greek airspace.

“A broad array of experts consistently express concerns about co-locating upgraded F-16s in the same theatre as Russian S400s, which Turkey also possesses.

“The Pappas amendment would prohibit the United States from selling F-16s and F-16 modernisation kits and upgrade technologies to Turkey unless Congress receives certification that Turkey has not violated Greece’s sovereignty – specifically through territorial overflights or violations of Greece’s internationally-recognised Flight Information Region.”