Diplomatic sources: US bill delays transfer of F-35 jets, does not impose sanctions

DAILY SABAH
ANKARA
Published 14.08.2018 21:01

The U.S. defense policy bill signed by President Donald Trump on Monday does not bring any sanctions against Turkey, Turkish diplomatic sources said yesterday.

The bill, however, will hold up the delivery of 100 F-35 Lightning II jets to Turkey.

Following the U.S. Senate's overwhelming approval of the defense policy bill, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the $716-billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a ceremony at the Fort Drum military base in New York.

Diplomatic sources highlighted that the bill does not restrict Turkey's participation in the F-35 programs but only delays the transfer of the jets until the Pentagon issues a report within 90 days.

Clarifying the misunderstanding circulated in the media, sources said "there are no restrictions relating to the participation in F-35 programs. Two F-35 jets were handed over to Turkey on June 21 and our pilots are deployed and will be deployed in Luke Air Force Base until their training is completed."

The bill requires U.S. Secretary of Defense to prepare a report on U.S.-Turkey relations and the threat posed by Turkey's, a NA

TO ally, purchase of a Russian-made missile defense system on the security of U.S.-made weapons within 90 days.

The bill does not have any operational effect on Turkey since, during the 90-days period given for the preparation of the report, there is no planned transfer of F-35 jets.

Until the report is submitted to the Congress, the U.S. will not allow transfer of already-purchased F-35 jets to Turkey.

Turkey's removal from the F-35 program, however, was taken out of the bill by the Congressional Conference Committee. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had opposed Turkey's removal from the program saying that "it will disrupt supply chain and might increase the jets' prices."

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

Therefore, the removal of Turkey from the F-35 supply chain would be a blow for Turkish defense firms. Apart from Turkey, the U.S., U.K., Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Norway and Denmark are also members of the F-35 fighter jet program.

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