Ankara: USA officially stopped the contract with Turkey of supplying eight F – 35 jets. Spectators say that the US action is due to their protest in Turkey’s S-400 missile contract with US’s rival Russia. Turkey agreed this deal with Russia, in the last year and US were considering the F-35 contract since then. It was only Monday that the official decision to stop the contract came from US Department of Defense ministry.
The contract involved buying the eight F-35A jets built by Lockheed Martin as part of a $861.7 million modification. “This modification exercises options to procure eight Lot 14 F-35A Lightning II aircraft as a result of the Republic of Turkey’s removal from the F-35 programme, and six Lot 14 F-35A aircraft for the air force,” the contract read. This was reported by the famous reporter Chris Cavas in his official Twitter account:
The decision came a year after Turkey was removed from the F-35 consortium in 2019 following its purchase of the S-400 system. The US also ended its F-35 training programme for Turkish personnel and blocked the transfer of the jets to its NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) ally.
Turkey joined the US’ F-35 consortium in 2002, alongside the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia, Norway and Denmark. It had planned to buy 100 of the jets before deciding on the controversial deal with Russia. Each F-35 costed about $90 million (Dh331m). The S-400 acquisition was deemed as a violation of Congress’ Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) that passed overwhelmingly in 2017 to sanction any significant transactions with Russia. Leading US Senators urged swift sanctions on Turkey and its complete removal from the F-35 supply chain.
USA had another thought to be cautious about. They predicted a chance that Russia could use the S-400 to acquire intelligence on the F-35 and Nato members’ defense systems.
Katie Wheelbarger, acting assistant secretary of defense for international security, said last year that the two systems were incompatible. “The S-400 is a computer. The F-35 is a computer. You don’t hook your computer to your adversary’s computer and that’s basically what we would be doing.”
Aaron Stein, the director of research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute think tank in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania says that Turkey may get to face an operability problem by using the F-35 jets contract. “It is getting very hard to see how Turkey will operate this [F-35] jet in the future. It is also unknown what choices Turkey will make for a future fourth generation fighter,” he wrote in his Tweet.
Meanwhile, some sources believe that Turkey was negotiating with Russia last year to acquire its Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets as an alternative to the F-35. If that deal is on, the relation between Turkey and the NATO allies will further get worse. US president Donald Trump has already delayed the imposition of CAATSA sanctions on Turkey.
Mr. Trump had an energetic relation between Turkish President Rajab Tayyib Erdogan, but on grounds of the status quo, reports state that White House had called and discussed the contract negotiations with Ankara office, the last week.