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U.S. Air Force To Buy Turkish Air Force F-35 Lightning II Jets After S-400 Fiasco

U.S. Air Force To Buy Turkish Air Force F-35 Lightning II Jets After S-400 Fiasco
An F-35A Lightning II taxis off the flight line while another F-35 land Nov. 6, 2019, at Luke Air Force Base (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Brooke Moeder)

According to the Scramble Magazine report, Sources within the Pentagon revealed that US lawmakers have agreed on a bill setting policy for the Department of Defense, calling for sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of S-400 Surface to Air Missile (SAM) systems on 9 December 2019.

The National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA) prohibits the transfer of F-35s to Turkey. It issued a so-called Sense of Congress in which Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400s constitutes a significant transaction under US sanctions law.

Within the bill, it is written-up that the USAF will receive additional funds for the purchase of Lightning II airframes which were initially intended for the Turkish Air Force.

It is possible that these aircraft will find their way to allied nations, but if they do, they will be transferred via the US Foreign Military Sales program, under USAF funds.

Lawmakers will not allow the F-35As once destined for Turkey to be transferred unless that country gets rid of its S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and associated equipment and promises never to purchase or use the Russian-made weapon again, according to the bill.

“Turkey’s possession of the S-400 air and missile defense system adversely affects the national security of Turkey, the United States, and all members of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance,” lawmakers said.

In a joint statement provided with the bill, Congress said it would “support” the US purchase of all jets originally meant for Turkey. The aircraft have been stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, where international pilot training is conducted.

“The conferees also encourage the Secretary of Defense to maximize the procurement quantity of Turkish F-35A aircraft associated with Lots 12, 13, or 14 during fiscal year 2020 using the additional funds authorized in section 4101 of this Act,” according to the statement.

The Pentagon in July officially booted Turkey from participating in the program over its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 and asked students — pilots and maintainers — attending F-35 training in the US at Luke and at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, to leave.

The DoD also began phasing out aircraft parts manufactured by Turkey. Turkish industries produce 937 parts for the F-35, including items for the landing gear and fuselage.

“We’re on the path to March 2020 to transition all of those parts out. … The US absorbed about a $600 million bill for that,” Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord said in October.

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