- The National Defense Authorization Act compromise bill would ban F-35 deliveries to Turkey until a report is delivered
- Congressional opposition is mounting over concerns with Turkey’s intent to buy S-400s
US House and Senate lawmakers proposed temporarily banning Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters (JSFs) to Turkey until a report is delivered on the broader relationship between the two NATO allies.
The compromise fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) defence authorisation legislation released on 24 July, known as the conference report, requires a report that assesses the operational and counterintelligence risks posed to the F-35 by the deployment of the Russia S-400 air and missile defence system in Turkey and the steps required to mitigate those risks, if possible.
The legislation also requires an assessment of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme, including a description of industrial participation of Turkish industry in the manufacturing and assembly of the F-35 programme and an assessment of tooling and other manufacturing materials held by Turkish industry. It also requires an assessment of the effects of a significant change in Turkish F-35 participation and the steps that would be required to mitigate negative effects of such a change on US and other international programme partners.
The report would be due no later than 90 days after the bill is signed into law. The legislation must be approved by the House and Senate and signed by President Donald Trump to go into effect. A request for comment to the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) was not returned at the time of writing.
Conferees who developed the conference report said they recognise that Turkey is an important international partner in the F-35 programme and that any significant change in Turkish participation would have substantial effects on the programme. However, conferees believe Turkey’s expressed intention to purchase the S-400 raises serious concerns and that such a purchase would have significant ramifications for the broader Turkey-US relationship, including the possibility of sanctions.