F-35 transfers to Turkey held back under US defense measure: Report
Transfers of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey will be barred temporarily under a defense policy measure agreed to on July 23, Bloomberg reported citing House and Senate aides.
According to the report, the Turkish receipt of the fighter jets would be held back until the Pentagon submitted an assessment within 90 days of the measure’s enactment on United States-Turkish relations, the impact of Turkey’s planned acquisition of Russia’s advanced S-400 missile defense system, and the ramifications for the U.S. industrial base if Turkey is dropped from the international F-35 program.
The move, reflecting the tensions in U.S.-Turkish relations, is part of a $717 billion defense policy bill for fiscal year 2019 crafted by congressional negotiators that awaits final approval in the House and Senate. The measure would also hold back some funds for the Defense Department’s cloud activities, reflecting the controversy over a winner-take-all cloud contract that competitors say would favor Amazon.com, Inc.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had warned Congress against cutting off transfers of the F-35. In a letter to lawmakers this month, Mattis said he agreed “with congressional concerns about the authoritarian drift in Turkey and its impact on human rights and rule of law.” But he said an F-35 cutoff would risk triggering an international “supply chain disruption” that would drive up costs and delay deliveries of the fighter.
Turkey plans to eventually buy at least 100 F-35 Lightning II fighters under the U.S.-led, multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.