F-35 chief reaffirms Turkey’s status as committed programme partner

01 October 2018

The Pentagon’s F-35 programme chief reasserted Turkey’s status in the programme. The FY 2019 defence spending bill, signed into law on 28 September, bans further deliveries to Turkey until the Pentagon delivers a report to Congress assessing the US-Turkish relationship. Source: Lockheed Martin

Key Points

  • The Pentagon's F-35 chief reaffirmed Turkey's status in the programme
  • US lawmakers are scrutinising the country's status in the programme as Turkey also wants to buy the Russian S-400 air-defence system

The Pentagon's head of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme reaffirmed Turkey's status as a committed programme partner despite the fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) defence spending bill temporarily barring deliveries to the Mediterranean country.

"There is no change to the Turkish participation nor change to executing the programme," Vice Admiral Mat Winter, programme director, told reporters on 1 October. "They pay all of their cost share responsibilities on time and their industrial base provides multiple parts on every F-35 and continues to provide quality industrial participation to us."

The FY 2019 defence appropriations bill, signed into law by President Donald Trump on 28 September, bans F-35 deliveries to Turkey until Defense Secretary James Mattis delivers a report to Congress on the status of the US relationship with Turkey. This report, due 11 November, must include an assessment of the potential S-400 purchase and how it may affect the US-Turkey relationship and their jointly operated weapon systems. These jointly operated systems are Lockheed Martin Patriot surface-to-air missile system, the Boeing CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, the Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the Sikorsky H-60 Black Hawk utility helicopter, and the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet.

The report must also assess operational and counter intelligence risks to the F-35 posed by S-400 deployment as well as a review of Turkey's participation in the F-35 programme. This review must include a description of Turkish industrial participation in manufacturing and assembly, tooling, and other manufacturing materials.

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