Three U.S. Senators are trying to block the sale of over 100 advanced warplanes to Turkey’s government.
Republicans James Lankford, Thom Tillis and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen have tabled legislation which would also see Turkey ruled out as a maintenance hub for the Lockheed-Martin-made aircraft.
Although Turkey is a NATO ally of the U.S., Lankford, in a statement said Ankara “has continued down a path of reckless governance and disregard for the rule of law”.
“Turkey’s strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, U.S. interests,” the senator added.
Lankford highlighted the case of a U.S.-born pastor on trial in Turkey on a range of serious charges stemming from his alleged links to the Fethullah Gulen network which Ankara says was behind the country’s July 2016 coup attempt.
Tillis added: “America is not going to forget about Andrew Brunson and the other Americans who are being wrongfully imprisoned by the Turkish government.”
“Turkey has long been a vital NATO ally and America understands the unique national security threats it faces; however, denying the rights of law-abiding Americans undermines the relationship between our two countries.
“The Erdogan government should understand that Congress will pursue measures to protect the interests of American citizens, including stopping the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey.”
The fighter jets are to replace Turkey’s fleet of F-16 aircraft. Reportedly, Ankara is planning to acquire a total 116 F-35 planes.
Turkey’s armament move has caused unease in Athens in light of comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who challenges the sovereignty of Greek islands and disputes the Treaty of Lausanne.