An official ceremony will be held for the delivery of Turkey's first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet despite spate of speculation and opposition from certain circles in the U.S. Turkish media reported yesterday that the issue of the delivery of F-35 fighter jets will begin on June 21 with the official delivery ceremony. Recently, three U.S. senators moved to block F-35 fighter jets from being delivered to Turkey. Senators James Lankford, Jeanne Shaheen and Thom Tillis, in a statement, claimed that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had embarked on a "path of reckless governance and disregard for the rule of law."
"Turkey's strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, U.S. interests. These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdoğan's regime increasingly risky," Lankford had said.
However, the Turkish government remains firm that any move to block the F-35 purchase would result in retaliation.
Turkey will react if the United States enacts a proposed law that would halt weapons sales to the country, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Sunday.
"If the U.S. imposes sanctions on us or takes such a step, Turkey will absolutely retaliate. What needs to be done is the U.S. needs to let go of this," he said.
ASELSAN, a Turkish defense giant that developed electronic optical targeting systems and air intervention controls for F-35 fighter jets, is also of the opinion that such a move would harm the U.S. itself.
ASELSAN Chairman Haluk Görgün said that the F-35 project would collapse altogether if the U.S. decided to halt the delivery of the jets to Turkey. "It is not possible. It would collapse the F-35 program. I consider this as a personal statement. Turkey is a significant partner in this project," Görgün said.
Turkey ordered 100 aircraft – including, according to reports, F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variants.
Several Turkish firms are involved in the making of the fighter jets as part of Turkey's partner role in the joint program. For instance, Alp Aviation partook in the production of the bodywork and landing gear. Ayesaş supplied the missile remote control interface and panoramic cockpit imaging system, and Fokker Elma produced electrical cabling and internal connection systems for F-35s. Moreover, Havelsan provided the training systems for F-35 jets, while Kale Aviation produced the body structure, connections and landing gear locking systems.
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