Turkey: No country can take us out of the F-35 program

Turkey asserted that no single country that is a partner in the US-made F-35 fighter program, which is under the supervision of NATO, can not remove it from the program.

The defense industries advisor in the Turkish presidency, Ismail Demir, stressed that there is no legal ground to exclude Turkey from the F-35 fighter project, and not to hand over part of it.

Demir explained, in an interview with a group of journalists in Ankara on Friday night – Saturday, that the partnership agreement that includes Turkey stipulates that no partner can exclude another partner in the combat project, and that this decision is made by the consensus of all partners or the state withdraws on its own.

A Pentagon official told the official Turkish Anadolu news agency, last April, that the United States had notified Turkey of officially removing it from the F-35 fighter program, and that the notification indicated an annulment. The joint memorandum of understanding open to the signing of the program participants in 2006, which Turkey signed on January 26, 2007, and not including Turkey in the new memorandum of understanding.

The Turkish agency quoted the official, who preferred not to be named, that the memorandum had been updated with the remaining eight partners (the United States, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Canada and Australia), and no new participants were included in the program.

Turkey says it has paid $ 1.4 billion for the purpose of obtaining 100 aircraft under the multilateral program, and threatened to resort to legal means to restore them, after Washington decided in July 2019 to stop delivering them due to Turkey’s receipt of the Russian S-400 system that it is preparing. Washington is a threat to NATO’s defense system, as well as to its F-35 fighters.

Turkey concluded a deal with Russia in 2017 to purchase the S-400 missile system, after its efforts to acquire the Patriot system from the United States faltered. Turkey has sought to remain in the US fighter program produced by Lockheed Martin by any means, and it has promised illegal exit efforts. It has commissioned the international law firm, Arnold & Porter, to obtain legal and strategic advisory services, in an effort to remain in the program.

Last December, former US President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on Turkey under the Anti-America’s Adversaries Sanctions Act (KATSA), which included 4 officials in the Turkish defense industries, and denied Turkey access to defense loans of more than 10 million dollars. US President Joe Biden pledged, during his election campaign, to push Turkey to abandon the S-400 system or impose severe sanctions on it, condemning the arms policies it adopts. But Turkey insisted on preserving the Russian system, stressing that it was seeking to contract a second batch of it.

Turkey still confirms its insistence on acquiring the Russian system, indicating that it will contract a second batch of it, including co-production, while the first batch it received in July 2019 has not been activated. It says at the same time that it is ready to acquire a system. The American Patriot, if the conditions are appropriate for it, in terms of price and production participation.

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