WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. agreed Monday to sell Turkey $259 million in software it has long sought to upgrade its fleet of U.S. F-16 fighter jets. State Department approval of the sale comes about two weeks after Turkey dropped its objections to Finland joining NATO.
Turkey continues to withhold its approval for Sweden to join the military alliance. NATO requires unanimous approval to admit new members.
Turkey also still wants to buy 40 new F-16s from the U.S., but some in Congress oppose the sale until Turkey approves NATO membership for both Nordic countries.
Turkey fell out of grace with the U.S. on high-tech military aircraft purchases after it decided in 2017 to acquire Russian air-defense missiles.
Turkey was kicked out of a U.S. program to develop the next-generation F-35 fighter plane and Turkish defense officials were sanctioned. The U.S. said the Russian missiles posed a threat to the F-35 and strongly objected to their use within the NATO alliance. Turkey sees the F-16s as an interim option to build up its air capability.
Monday’s approval of the software sale will let Turkey update the avionics of its existing F-16 fleet. The State Department said the upgrade includes improvements in communications and security programs like the ground avoidance system. It called it an “interoperability and basic safety-of-flight issue” for Turkey and its allies.