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Air Platforms

US delivers first F-35 to Turkey as congressional opposition to further deliveries grows

21 June 2018
Turkey's first F-35A as shown at Lockheed Martin's delivery ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, on 21 June 2018. Pictured on the left is a Joint Direct Attack Munition and on the right is a SOM-J air-to-surface standoff missile. Source: Lockheed Martin

Key Points

  • The United States delivered its first F-35A to Turkey
  • US lawmakers ramp up opposition to more F-35s to Turkey over its purchase of the S-400

As Lockheed Martin held a ceremony on 21 June to commemorate the first F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) delivery to Turkey, a US senator secured a bill that would block F-35 transfers to Turkey over the nation’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system.

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen's bill as part of the fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) state, foreign operations, and related programmes appropriations legislation expressly prohibits spending funds from FY 2019 as well as prior years to transfer or facilitate the transfer of F-35s. That is, until the secretary of state certifies that Turkey is not purchasing and will not accept delivers of the S-400.

The bill will advance for Senate consideration. It goes a step further than the FY 2019 defence authorisation bill passed by the Senate on 18 June that restricts funding on the transfer of F-35s to Turkey until the defence secretary issues a report on removing Turkey from the F-35 programme.

The F-35A conventional variant was delivered to Turkey during a lavish ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, production centre. The aircraft is heading to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where Turkey will begin training with the aircraft.

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