Turkey will take delivery of F-35 fighter jets in the U.S. city of Texas on Thursday while the jets will arrive in the country in 2020, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters in southern Antalya province, Çavuşoğlu said training for the Lockheed Martin-made jets will be carried out in the U.S. until 2020.
"There will be training works until 2020. The arrival of the jets in Turkey will be in 2020," the foreign minister said.
The U.S. Senate on Monday overwhelmingly approved the annual National Defense Authorization Act which includes an amendment prohibiting sales to Turkey of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets, citing the purchase of the S-400 air defense system from Russia and detaining U.S. citizens as the reasons.
Later, Turkey announced that the delivery of jets will take place at a ceremony in Texas, with the jets set to come to Turkey once the pilots complete training.
Turkey ordered 100 aircraft, 30 of which were approved. The aircraft ordered by Turkey are reported to have the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variants. STOVL aircraft can take off without needing a long runway and make vertical landings. F-16 pilots currently serving in the Turkish Air Force will be able use the planes after the completion of a six-week training program.
Apart from Turkey, the U.S., U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Norway and Denmark are also present as participant members of the program.
Turkey's cooperation with prime contractor U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin dates back to the 1990s, when it purchased F-16 fighter jets.
Turkish firms continue cooperation in the areas of system development and drills as part of the F-35 project.
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