The Pentagon will continue to depend on Turkish defense contractors for key components of the F-35 — from its center fuselage to 139 parts of its engine propulsion system — through 2022, according to U.S. defense officials, BLOOMBERG reports.
It’s the Defense Department’s first public confirmation that the Trump administration has softened a pledge to oust Turkey from the fighter jet program by March of this year over its purchase of a Russian-built missile defense system known as the S-400.
“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” the White House said in a statement last July 17.
Although Turkey is still banned from buying the plane built by Lockheed Martin Corp., Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Defense Department spokesman, said in a statement that a decision was made late last year “to honor existing contractual arrangements, and accept delivery of parts that were already on contract.”
The goal is to “avoid costly, disruptive, and wasteful contract terminations,” he said. The 2022 date was mentioned in a report on the F-35 by the GovernmentAccountability Office in May which included a discussion about the program’s use of Turkish parts. Alternate sources “have been identified for all Turkish-made parts and will be utilized as the Turkish contracts lapse and material is delivered,” Andrews said.
Turkey was an original F-35 partner. Its planned purchase of about 100 jets made it one of the four top foreign customers for the stealthy fighter — along with Japan, Australia and the U.K. — but it placed only six aircraft on contract before the U.S. relationship ruptured. The Senate’s version of the pending fiscal 2021 defense policy bill calls for converting those six for use by the U.S. Air Force. READ MORE HERE