F-35 Joint Program says will continue working with all partners

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
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F-35 Joint Program Office announced Thursday it would continue to execute current program plans with all partners including Turkey and to abide by any future policy guidelines.

"The F-35 Joint Program Office is supporting the Defense Department's report submission requirement to Congress on status of the United States relationship with the Republic of Turkey as directed in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act," the office said in a statement.

"The training of Turkish F-35 personnel at Luke Air Force Base will continue until the NDAA-required Secretary of Defense F-35 report has been submitted to Congress for their decision on the way forward," it added.

The announcement comes after U.S. President Donald Trump approved a defense budget law delaying the delivery of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Turkey.

An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), quickly approved by Congress, prohibits F-35 sales to Turkey until the Pentagon issues a report on Turkish-American relations in 90 days.

The report is expected to include an assessment of Turkey's participation in the F-35 program as well as the risks that would be posed by the country's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

Turkey has been in the F-35 program since 1999. The Turkish defense industry has taken an active role in the production of aircraft and invested $1.25 billion in the aircraft's development. Alp Aviation, AYESAS, Kale Aviation, Kale Pratt & Whitney and Turkish Aerospace Industries have been producing parts for the first F-35 fighter jet.

Turkey plans to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets in the coming years. Out of 100 aircraft, 30 have been approved. The country took delivery of its first F-35 fighter jet at a ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 21. The first F-35 aircraft delivered is also the first fifth-generation fighter jet to enter the Turkish Air Force Command inventory.

Apart from Turkey, the U.S., U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Norway and Denmark are also present as participant members of the F-35 fighter jet program.

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