U.S. Approves Sales of F-16s to Turkey, F-35s to Greece

The moves set the stage for an expansion of NATO air power.

The F-16 Block 70 first flight in January 2023. [Courtesy: Lockheed Martin]

The State Department has given the green light for the possible $23 billion sale of F-16 fighters to Turkey and nearly $9 billion sale of F-35 jets to Greece.

The purchase approvals, announced late Friday, set the stage for a significant expansion of NATO air power and came hours after Turkey ratified its approval of Sweden joining the alliance.

Sweden’s entry into NATO will make the whole alliance stronger,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday. "I look forward to Hungary’s ratification as soon as the parliament reconvenes."

The approval for the possible foreign military sale of 40 new F-16 aircraft and upgrades of 79 existing F-16s granted to Turkey comes as the country's existing fleet approaches the end of its service life, the State Department said. The approval included 32 F-16 C Block 70 aircraft and eight F-16 D Block 70 aircraft, along with 40 installed F110-GE-129D engines and eight spares.

"These new and refurbished aircraft will provide Turkey with a fleet of modernized multirole combat aircraft to enable it to provide for the defense of its airspace, contribute to NATO missions to preserve regional security and defend NATO allies, and maintain interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said in a statement Friday. "Turkey has F-16 aircraft in its inventory and will have no difficulty absorbing these aircraft and services into its armed forces." 

U.S. officials also cleared the path Friday for the possible sale to Greece of up to 40 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Conventional Takeoff and Landing aircraft. That approval also included 40 installed Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engines, along with two spares.

"This proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security of the United States by improving the air capabilities and interoperability of a NATO ally that is a force for political and economic stability in Europe," DSCA said in a statement.

Defense officials in Athens, Greece, said they expect deliveries to begin in 2027-28, Reuters reported.

Congress was notified of the approval determinations for both Turkey and Greece on January 26, DSCA said.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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