Turkey has reportedly requested the US for the sale of 40 F-16 fighter jets as part of initiatives to upgrade the country’s airforce.

Sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters that the acquisition is being worked out via the US foreign military sales (FMS) process.

A formal appeal is said to have been made last month, according to several media reports.

The multibillion-dollar deal requires approval by the US State Department and Congress, which have the authority to block it.

A State Department spokesperson was quoted as saying: “As a matter of policy, the department does not confirm or comment on proposed defence sales or transfers until they have been formally notified to Congress.”

The news was first reported by Greek defence outlet Defense Review.

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The move to buy Lockheed Martin-built F-16s fighter jets and some 80 modernisation kits for the existing aircraft follows the failed F-35 deal between Turkey and the US.

In July 2019, the US expelled Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme in retaliation for the country accepting delivery of the Russian S-400 missile system.

In May last year, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the expulsion of Turkey from the F-35 programme worsened parts shortage that could affect the fighter’s move to full-rate production.

Around 900 parts for the F-35 fighter aircraft are made in Turkey.