Turkey to receive two F-35 warplanes by March 2019, official says

Published 02.10.2018 00:00
Updated 02.10.2018 01:40
Turkey to receive two F-35 warplanes by March 2019, official says

"We expect that two more F-35 warplanes be delivered to Turkey by March 2019," Vice Admiral Mat Winter, the F-35's program executive officer said late Monday.

"There is no sign about a change in the delivery of the 100 aircraft," he added, referring to Turkey's plans to purchase a hundred F-35s.

Reminding that the Pentagon has to present a report to the Congress about the warplanes' delivery to Turkey, he added that the paperwork would be sent to the lawmakers in 90 days.

Turkey and the U.S. have recently been at loggerheads over the former's purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems and the arrest of terror-linked American pastor Andrew Brunson.

The Trump administration had decided to delay the delivery of the warplane to Turkey, citing the pastor's case and later its purchase from the Russians.

In early August, U.S. President Donald Trump approved a defense budget law delaying 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.

Still, the F-35 Joint Program Office announced on Aug. 16 that it would continue to execute current program plans with all partners, including Turkey, and to abide by any future policy guidelines.

Turkey has been in the F-35 program since 1999, and 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, AYESAŞ, Kale Aviation, Kale Pratt & Whitney and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) have been producing parts for the first F-35 fighter jet. AYESAŞ is also the sole provider of two key components of the plane.

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.

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