WASHINGTON, (BM) – The US will not refuse to purchase F-35 combat aircraft parts manufactured in Turkey until 2022, US Department of Defense spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said on June 30, BulgarianMilitary.com reports.
According to Andrews, the decision to not break the agreements concluded with Turkey was made by the Pentagon at the end of 2019. The lieutenant colonel explained that an immediate termination of contracts would be costly and destructive for the American army.
A Pentagon spokesman said the US has identified alternative sources of supply for the F-35 parts that are currently being manufactured in Turkey. As Turkish contracts expire, the U.S. Army will enter into new contracts with other manufacturers.
Recall that Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense systems prompted Washington to exclude Turkey from the joint program to develop fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets. The United States claims that Russia could use its development to obtain secret information about the American aircraft.
According to Pentagon officials, Turkish companies produce 817 out of 24,000 F-35 body parts, and 188 out of 3,000 engine parts.
The Turkish F-35/S-400 saga
The US has stopped the transfer to Turkey of support equipment for the Lockheed Martin F-35A
On April 1/ April 2 last year the United States has stopped the transfer to Turkey of support equipment for the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) as Ankara moves ahead with plans to procure a Russian ground-based air defence system.
The move, reported by Reuters and subsequently confirmed by the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 1 April, is the latest in a series of attempts by Washington to dissuade Turkey from procuring the S-400 over concerns that networking the Russian system into NATO’s wider air defence system would expose the F-35 to an unacceptable security risk. Turkey is expected to receive the S-400 in July.
“Pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400, deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability have been suspended,” the DoD told Reuters.
Turkey is a Tier 3 partner in the international F-35 programme, with plans to acquire up to 100 of the conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) F-35A to replace its Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons. It reportedly plans to field approximately 20 short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35Bs, although it is unclear if these will form part of the wider programme-of-record or if they will be in addition to it.
To date, the Turkish Air Force (TuAF) has received two F-35As, which remain at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in the US as part of the wider international training fleet. They are not due to be flown to their future home operating base at Malatya-Erhac until 2020.
Ankara threatened an international tribunal
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Ткхе 28 2019 he believes US President Donald Trump knows why Ankara had decided to buy Russian S-400 missile systems.
“Mr. Trump knows Turkey’s concerns, why we needed this system and how we came to this point very well,” he said in an interview with Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review ahead of the Group of Twenty summit in Osaka.
He said talks with the US administration on that matter were underway. He also noted he hoped to speak about that with Trump during the Group of Twenty summit. Besides, in his words, Trump’s visit to Turkey is July was being looked at.
The Turkish president warned the United States that Ankara would turn to the international arbitration court if Washington refuses to implement the contract for F-35 fighter jets. “We have already paid them $1.25 billion for the F-35 project. If they do make such a wrong move, we will take it to the international arbitration court because we will want them to pay us back the money we have spent so far,” he said.
When asked about Turkey’s response in case the United States imposed sanctions over the purchase of Russian S-400 systems, Erdogan said it was impossible to apply the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) to Turkey “because we took this step [of buying the S-400] before CAATSA came into effect.”
U.S has allowed Turkey to rejoin the F-35 program under certain conditions
At the end of August 2019 the Pentagon announced that the US would consider allowing Turkey to rejoin the F-35 program only if the Russian-made S-400 air defense system is completely removed from Turkish soil, meaning the government in Ankara could not simply keep the systems deactivated in warehouses.
“They have to, again, get rid of the S-400 program and completely out of the country [before] we could consider that,” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told press when asked about the possibility Turkey could find a way to again be part of the Joint Strike Fighter program.
“I have been very clear in both my public comments and privately with my Turkish counterpart: It’s either the F-35 or the S-400,” he said. “It’s not both. It’s not park one in the garage and roll the other one out. It’s one or the other. So we are where we are, and it’s regrettable.”
Turkey began looking for alternatives
On November 27 2019 the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country will be forced to look for alternatives to fifth-generation F-35 US fighter jets if the US refuses to transfer them to the republic.
He announced this at a press conference in Ankara on Wednesday.
“We are partners [of the F-35 project] and today we have invested $ 1.4 billion in it. If we do not get the F-35, we will be forced to look for alternatives,” the Turkish foreign minister said.
The US president said ‘It’s not fair’
U.S. President Donald Trump said on July 17 2019 it is “not fair” to either Turkey or the United States that Washington cannot sell Ankara billions of dollars worth of F-35 fighter jets after it bought a Russian air defence system.
Washington’s concern is that deploying the S-400 with the F-35 would allow Russia to gain too much inside information of the stealth system.
Buying military equipment from Russia also leaves the NATO member liable to U.S. sanctions retribution under a 2017 law known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.
“It’s a very tough situation that they’re in, and it’s a very tough situation that we’ve been placed in the United States … we’ll see what happens. But it’s not really fair,” Trump told reporters at a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
“Because of the fact that you bought a Russian missile, we’re not allowed to sell them billions of dollars’ worth of aircraft. It’s not a fair situation,” Trump said, lamenting the jobs that would be lost.
The financial side of the problem
If Turkey is ejected from the F-35 program, it would deal an immediate blow to the production rate for new planes and place fresh stress on an already strained supply chain, Vice Adm. Mat Winter said on April 5 2019.
In the latest in the ongoing controversy over how the US and NATO might react if Turkey goes ahead with its planned purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, F-35 program manager Vice Adm. Mathias Winter told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that “the evaluation of Turkey stopping would be between 50- and 75-airplane impact over a two-year period.”
That hit to production comes from the 6 percent to 7 percent of the aircraft’s parts that are made in Turkey, Winter said, and “we would see within 45 to 90 days an impact of the slowing down or stopping of those parts to the three production lines.”
The loss of those parts would be felt acutely as the approximately 3,000 suppliers working on the F-35 “are struggling with the demand signal on them,” Winter added, as more planes enter service and older ones are increasingly in need of repair.
Russian and Western technologies cannot be compatible
If Turkey acquired the S-400 alongside the F-35, the technology that makes that aircraft lethal could potentially be compromised. This opinion was expressed by hundreds of experts last year, including us.
NATO states use a tactical data link that allows military aircraft and even ships and ground troops to share their tactical pictures in near-real time. This is called Link 16. NATO aircraft also use Identification Friend or Foe systems, known as IFF, to identify friendly aircraft in the sky.
An IFF and Link 16 interrogator would have to be integrated into the S-400 system to allow the Turkish F-35, with the transponder, to fly within lethal range of the S-400.
This opens up all Link 16 and IFF tactical data link equipment to be compromised, a former radar and weapons expert said on background.
“With the F-35 flying in close proximity to the S-400 system, over time, you could collect sensitive stealth characteristics of this F-35 and learn its detailed stealth capabilities,” the expert said.
End of the story
This year on March 4 the American company Lockheed Martin, which is engaged in the production of F-35A fighters, put an end to the discussion of Turkey’s participation in the project.
The contract stipulated that Ankara would receive 100 fighters under this program.
In addition to closing Washington’s issue of handing over Turkish fighter jets, it also imposed sanctions on the S-400 Triumph systems. President of the Republic Recep Erdogan did not hide his indignation on this occasion and said that he would buy weapons for the army from the state he wants.
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Editorial team / Pravda