US leaves limited opportunity for Turkey to return to F-35 programme

by Pat Host

The United States is giving Turkey a limited opportunity to rejoin the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme, but only if it completely divests the Russian S-400 air defence system.

“They would, again, have to get rid of the S-400 programme, completely out of the country,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters on 28 August. “Then we would consider that.”

The Pentagon is leaving a limited opportunity for Turkey to rejoin the F-35 programme by divesting the S-400 air defence system, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper reiterated on 28 August. (Lockheed Martin)

The Pentagon is leaving a limited opportunity for Turkey to rejoin the F-35 programme by divesting the S-400 air defence system, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper reiterated on 28 August. (Lockheed Martin)

The Pentagon remains steadfast that Turkey cannot have both the F-35 and the S-400 simultaneously. The Pentagon is in the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 programme and will spend between USD500 and 600 million to shift part of the programme’s supply chain out of Turkey.

“I have been very clear in both my public comments and privately with my Turkish counterpart,” Esper said. “It is not ‘park one in the garage and roll the other one out’. It is one or the other.”

Turkey is not backing down. Turkey announced on 27 August that a second S-400 battery began arriving at Mürted Air Base, northwest of Ankara, in a process lasting about a month. The first battery of equipment for Turkey’s S-400s was delivered between 12 and 25 July.

Removing Turkey from the F-35 programme will have a big effect on the supply chain because nearly 900 aircraft parts, including the centre fuselage and the cockpit display, are produced inside the country. To “bridge the gap initially”, US-based sources will begin producing parts currently manufactured in Turkey before the programme is “gradually” opened to other partners to be the first, second, and third production sources.

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/us-leaves-limited-opportunity-for-turkey-to-return-to-f-35-programme

The United States is giving Turkey a limited opportunity to rejoin the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightnin...

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