F-35 Joint Program Office 'to execute current plans' with Turkey
ANKARA - Anadolu Agency
The F-35 Joint Program Office on Aug. 16 said it would continue to execute its current program plans with all partners and to abide by any future policy directions.
“The F-35 Joint Program Office is supporting the Defense Department’s report submission requirement to Congress on status of the United States relationship with the Republic of Turkey as directed in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act,” the office said in a statement.
“The training of Turkish F-35 personnel at Luke Air Force Base will continue until the NDAA-required Secretary of Defense F-35 report has been submitted to Congress for their decision on the way forward,” it said.
U.S. President Donald Trump recently signed a $716 billion defense spending bill, which includes an amendment prohibiting sales to Turkey of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets until the Pentagon issues a report on Turkish-American relations in 90 days.
The report is expected to include an assessment of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program as well as the “risks” that would be posed by the country’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program was taken out of the bill by the Congressional Conference Committee.
“Turkey is not the only country that is a buyer of F-35 jets. It is a partner in the project. Until now, it [Turkey] has made the necessary payments,” Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said on Aug. 15.
Turkey has been in the F-35 program since 1999. The Turkish defense industry has taken an active role in their production, as Alp Aviation, AYESAS, Kale Aviation, Kale Pratt & Whitney, and Turkish Aerospace Industries have produced parts for the first F-35 fighter jet.
Ankara plans to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets in the upcoming years.