U.S suspends F-35 fighters deliveries to Turkey over Russian arms deal
The United States said Monday it was halting all deliveries and joint work with Turkey on the F-35 fighters program after Turkey insisted on a major arms purchase from Russia.
After months of warnings, the United States said that Turkey’s decision to buy Russia’s S-400 missile system was incompatible with remaining part of the emblematic US warplane program.
“Until they forgo delivery of the S-400, the United States has suspended deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability,” Pentagon chief spokesman Charles E. Summers Jr. said.
“Should Turkey procure the S-400, their continued participation in the F-35 program is at risk,” he said in a statement.
US officials have voiced concern that, with Turkey in both camps, Russia could obtain F-35 data to improve the accuracy of the S-400 against Western aircraft.
The Pentagon said that it had started to look at secondary sources to produce parts for F-35s that were being developed in Turkey.
Turkey had planned to buy 100 F-35 fighters, with pilots already training in the United States. The plane’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, said that contracts with Turkish companies to build parts for the F-35 had been expected to reach $12 billion.
Among the eight Turkish companies involved in the purchase, Ayesas has been building a panoramic cockpit display for the F-35 and Fokker Elmo makes 40 percent of the electrical wiring and interconnection system, according to Lockheed Martin.