(Bloomberg) -- US lawmakers are set to remove hurdles to the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey in a move that may improve frayed ties between the two allies.
The final annual defense authorization bill dropped a provision adopted by the US House of Representatives in July that would have prohibited the sale of F-16s to Turkey unless President Joe Biden certifies that providing the Lockheed Martin Corp. fighters is in the national interest and that Turkey won’t use the jets for unauthorized territorial overflights on Greece.
“We believe that North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies should not conduct unauthorized territorial overflights of another NATO ally’s airspace,” lawmakers wrote in the explanatory statement accompanying the annual defense measure.
Biden already said he supports selling the F-16s to Turkey, a decision that came soon after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled his support for Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu previously warned that his country wouldn’t buy the aircraft from the US if restrictions were imposed on their use.
Turkey turned its focus to buying F-16s to upgrade its aging fleet of American warplanes after it was kicked out of the program to help manufacture and buy the next-generation F-35 fighter, also made by Lockheed. That move was made in response to Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile-defense systems, which Erdogan said was urgently needed for his country’s security.
The US House is scheduled to vote on the compromise defense authorization bill on Wednesday with the Senate to follow suit before it goes to Biden’s desk for his signature.
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