US senator Lindsay Graham unexpectedly supports F-16 sales to Türkiye

Anti-Turkey Republican Senator Lindsey Graham threw his support Wednesday behind a decision by the US on upgrading Türkiye’s F-16 fighter jet fleet.

“I support the Biden Administration’s decision to support the sale of new F-16s to our NATO ally, Turkey,” Graham, who represents South Carolina, said on Twitter.

“While we have differences with Turkey, they are a NATO ally and it is in America’s national security interests to beef up their capabilities in a troubled region,” he wrote.

He added that upgrading Türkiye’s “aviation capability will benefit Turkey, the U.S., NATO, and regional security.”

Graham is one of the senators that worked hard to oust Türkiye from the F-35 program.

His tweets came hours after the Pentagon expressed support for Türkiye’s modernization plans for its F-16 fleet.

In a call with reporters, Celeste Wallander, the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, called Ankara a “highly capable, highly valued, strategic NATO ally,” noting that “strong Turkish defense capabilities contribute to strong NATO defense capabilities.”

“So the US Department of Defense fully supports Turkey’s modernization plans for its F-16 fleet. These plans are in the works,” she told reporters.

Wallander said the modernization of the fleet is a contribution to NATO’s security and therefore American security.

The Turkish government requested the F-16s and modernization kits in October 2021.

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