Sen. Menendez Says He Won’t Approve F-16 Sale to Turkey

The Biden administration is preparing to notify Congress of an F-16 sale to Turkey and an F-35 sale to Greece

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has come out against a potential F-16 sale to Turkey that was reported by The Wall Street Journal on Friday.

The report said that the Biden administration is preparing to notify Congress of major arms deals for Turkey and Greece, two NATO allies that have been at odds over territorial disputes in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.

The deal for Greece would be for at least 30 F-35 fighter jets, which will likely face no opposition from Congress. The sale for Turkey would be for 40 F-16 fighter jets and 79 kits to upgrade their existing fleet, but it may face stiff resistance. Many lawmakers in Congress aren’t happy with Ankara for several reasons, including Turkey withholding its approval of Sweden and Finland joining NATO.

US officials told the Journal that they are trying to convince Turkey to approve Sweden and Finland’s NATO bid, with one official calling the F-16 sale a “carrot on a stick.” The officials said Ankara’s approval would lead to less opposition in Congress over the deal.

In a statement rejecting the idea of the sale, Menendez cited alleged human rights abuses carried out by the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, setting up a potential fight between Congress and the administration over the deal.

“President Erdogan continues to undermine international law, disregard human rights and democratic norms, and engage in alarming and destabilizing behavior in Turkey and against neighboring NATO allies,” Menendez said.

“Until Erdogan ceases his threats, improves his human rights record at home — including by releasing journalists and political opposition — and begins to act like a trusted ally should, I will not approve this sale,” he added.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is visiting the US this week and is due to arrive in Washington on Tuesday. The administration is expected to notify Congress of the potential deal when Cavusoglu is in Washington.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.