US Senator Bob Menendez on Monday said he did not see Washington approving the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey unless there is a dramatic turnaround on its S-400 missile defense system, such as it being sent out of the country, according to Lena Argiri, the DC correspondent of Greek Public Broadcasting ERT.
Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke at the 3rd annual Southeast Europe & East Med conference organized by the Greek Kathimerini daily and the Hellenic American Leadership Council.
A walk-back on S-400s would not be enough for Turkey to get the F-16s, according to Menendez, quoted as saying that other things would have to happen as well without specifying what those things were.
.@SenatorMenendez:I do not see sale of F16 to Turkey unless there was a dramatic turnaround on S400/system was sent out of country/other things would have to happen as well/Erdogan's charm offensive will not work/1 Committee has jurisdiction over arms sales in Congress pic.twitter.com/ivH9WZAERX
— Lena Argiri (@lenaargiri) March 15, 2022
Turkey’s purchase of the S-400s from Russia strained ties with the United States and its NATO allies.
Despite warnings from the US and other NATO allies, Erdoğan brokered a deal worth $2.5 billion with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the S-400 missile system in 2017.
Ignoring Washington’s threats of sanctions, Turkey started taking delivery of the first S-400s in July 2019. In response, Washington removed Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, in which Ankara was both a manufacturer and a buyer.
The S-400, a mobile surface-to-air missile system, could pose a risk to the NATO alliance as well as to the F-35, America’s most expensive weapons platform, according to Turkey’s Western allies.