A bill to prevent the delivery of Lockheed Martin F-35As to Turkey introduced by a group of US Senators has put Turkey’s future participation in the JSF program at risk.
The bill was introduced on April 26 in response to the worsening human rights situation in Turkey, alleged imprisonment and harassment of US citizens, and its decision to acquire a Russian Almaz-Antey S-400 Triumf air defence system.
“These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdogan’s regime increasingly risky,” said Sen James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma. “Furthermore, the Turkish government continues to move closer and closer to Russia…such action instead will be met with the kind of punitive measures this bill would enact.”
Turkey is a NATO member and has been an ally and partner in the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. But Turkish and US forces have also been on opposite sides in other parts of the fragmented civil war in Syria. Turkey has a requirement for 100 F-35As, and has ordered an initial batch of 14 with deliveries scheduled to begin later this year.
Turkey is also a major industrial partner in program, and manufactures key components including landing gear components, fuselage structural assemblies, F135 engine components, the panoramic cockpit display, and wiring systems components.