Turkey seeks its legal rights for F-35s together with US companies: Defense body head

Turkey seeks its legal rights for F-35s together with US companies: Defense body head

Sevil Erkuş - ANKARA
Turkey seeks its legal rights for F-35s together with US companies: Defense body head

Following Turkey’s suspension from the F-35 fighter jet program by the United States, Ankara is aiming to seek its legal rights in cooperation with the American firms that incurred losses or suffered an additional burden in the project’s production phase, the head of Turkey’s top defense procurement and development body said on March 11.

Both Turkey and some other U.S.-based companies are suffering from the burden due to the U.S. administration’s decision, and it should be concluded who will cover this loss, Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) Chair İsmail Demir told a group of journalists.

The official recalled that Turkish companies were partners with American firms in the production of F-35 fighter jet parts.

“We think that this process will be more easily executable if they are also involved. Because it is not only the Turkish side that suffered here. This [decision] will add a burden of $500-600 million to the program. Prices per item will increase,” he stated.

“Turkey is not the sole party that is seeking its rights. It is on the agenda to seek the rights of all companies, countries and structures that have been damaged in this process,” Demir said.

Turkey has been engaging with these parties to test the waters for their position to act together, Demir emphasized.

Ankara has been making “the first contacts” to this bid and these efforts are based “on a strategy such as determining the attitudes of those involved in this process and acting together [later],” he said.

These efforts are part of an action plan by Ankara to act against the U.S decision, which suspended Turkey from the F-35 stealth jet program.

The U.S. has claimed the Russian-made S-400s defense systems that Turkey has purchased pose a threat to the next-generation F-35 fighter jets and NATO’s broader defense systems.

As Turkey stepped up to protect its rights in the F-35 fighter jet program, Ankara initially started to work with local legal advisors and then attempted to take action in the U.S., following the Turkish law firms’ assessment, and contacted internationally, Demir said.

In the second stage, Turkey has inked a consultation agreement with a Washington-based law firm Arnold & Porter, for strategic advice and to outreach U.S. authorities.

Cooperation with the U.S based law was “a step to clarify the style of action and the roadmap,” he said.

This road map includes different dimensions of the matter such as whether to stay within the F-35 program, along with compensation of losses such as the cost for joining the program, and the money paid per aircraft.

“Whether to be in the program or not? As long as we are in the program, loss of rights of both Turkish companies and American companies after we were excluded from the program should be taken into account,” Demir said.

“There is the issue of compensation for the cost Turkey paid to join the program. Then there is compensation for the amount that was paid for planes,” he added.

“These are all issues on their own, and the rights of all the sufferers should be taken into consideration and brought to the agenda. The decisions in the production process did not only harm Turkish companies. There is also harm to American companies,” he stated.

Elaborating on obtaining a second consignment of the S-400 defense systems, Demir said the talks are taking longer time compared to the purchase of the first batch of systems because negotiations aim to provide technology capacities for Turkey.

“Talks are not like the first system. Because that’s what makes this issue important and what makes this issue the most important in terms of Turkey’s defense industry is the capabilities that we will achieve in this process. That capabilities issue is the most important part of the issue for us,” he said.

“We expect our demands and objectives to be fulfilled,” Demir said without elaborating on these demands.

For the second deal with Russia, Turkey demands technology transfer and joint production of the defense systems.

Turkey establishes satellite company

Demir also announced that Turkey would establish a satellite company. Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TUSAŞ) will be part of this entity, and legal work for other partners is underway, he said.

Demir also noted that Turkey was given six months of more extension by Pakistan to materialize with the engine acquisition of Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopters (ATAK).

Pakistan, earlier, gave Turkey a one-year extension to deliver the helicopters after Washington put a halt on Turkey for the delivery of engines manufactured by LHTEC, a joint venture between the American firm Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce.