Pentagon Formally Removes Turkey From F-35 JSF Program

Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II (Photo Courtesy Lockheed Martin)

The Pentagon has updated the Joint Memorandum of Understanding that says the other participants – US, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Canada and Norway – will remain in the programme.

The US Department of Defense has officially notified Ankara of Turkey’s removal from the F-35 fighter jets programme.

Speaking to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency on Wednesday, a US defence official said that according to the statement sent to Ankara, the Joint Memorandum of Understanding opened to participant countries’ signature in 2006 and signed by Turkey on January 26, 2007, has been cancelled and Turkey was not included in the new agreement. 

The official did not share the channels used to notify Turkey.

Turkey had joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Programme (JSF) in 2007.

Other participants of the programme were US, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Canada, and Norway.

Suppliers replaced

During the first round of negotiations, Turkey pledged to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets.

In 2018, six jets were meant for Turkey on condition that a Turkish pilot gets trained by the programme before actual delivery.

The delivery of the fighter jets was postponed after the start of the S-400 crisis between the US and Turkey.

By July 2020, the Defense Department announced contracts for the US air force to officially purchase eight F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter jets that were initially intended for Turkey. In addition to the F-35A’s built by Lockheed Martin for Turkey, the $862 million contract modification provides the aerospace manufacturer with an undetermined sum to reconfigure the jets in-line with US models.

Turkey were also producing parts for the aircraft, but with the S-400 crisis, production was halted and the US found new suppliers for the parts.

Sales to proceed

President Joe Biden’s administration indicated on Wednesday it was moving forward with a $23 billion sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates but was considering restrictions and would not deliver them soon.

The State Department shortly after Biden’s inauguration in January ordered a review of the massive arms package, which was approved by former President Donald Trump when the Gulf ally recognised Israel.

Responding to a lawsuit seeking to block the sale, the State Department said it planned a “robust and sustained dialogue” with the United Arab Emirates on arms transfers.

“We can confirm that the administration intends to move forward with these proposed defense sales to the UAE, even as we continue reviewing details and consulting with Emirati officials to ensure we have developed mutual understandings with respect to Emirati obligations before, during and after delivery,” a State Department spokesperson said.

“Projected delivery dates on these sales, if eventually implemented, will be several years in the future.”

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