WASHINGTON, (BM) – Eight fifth-generation F-35 fighters of the American corporation Lockheed Martin, originally intended for Turkey, will be bought by the US Air Force for $ 862 million, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing the press service of the Pentagon.
In a statement, the military department notes that the acquisition of eight F-35s already manufactured for Turkey [in total, Turkey intended to buy 100 fighters] is carried out as part of a modification of the contract already signed with Lockheed Martin.
Also, the manufacturer will make the necessary changes for the US Air Force in the supplied aircraft.
As reported by BulgarianMilitary.com, the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems [SAM] have become a reason for discord between Turkey and the United States. Washington said that Ankara was barred from participating in the F-35 program.
How this situation came about
It all came from Turkey’s decision to buy Russian S-400 missile systems at a time when it was one of the main players in the program for a fifth-generation F-35 aircraft.
This provoked angry reactions from the United States, which said it was unacceptable for a NATO member and a direct participant in the F-35 program.
The reasons for the discontent and the ensuing political crisis were different. The basic version is that Russian systems cannot be compatible with American ones, and that if Turkey uses the S-400 it will learn the secrets of the F-35 fighter, most likely they will be handed over to the Russians.
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.
The United States wanted to reach an agreement with Turkey and sell the fighters
Last year on July 17 the U.S. President Donald Trump said 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.
“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.
“I would say that (F-35 manufacturer) Lockheed is not exactly happy,” he said.
Trump’s nominee to become defence secretary, Army Secretary Mark Esper, reaffirmed in his Senate confirmation hearing the Pentagon’s long-standing position that Turkey could not have both the S-400 and F-35.
Esper testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that he told Turkey’s defence minister: “You can either have the S-400 or you can have the F-35. You cannot have both.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump were reviewing “all of the options that are in the CAATSA legislation,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.
“I think that we’ve been pretty clear … what the ramifications could be and I think that you saw those ramifications today when the president talked about the inability of Turkey now to have the F-35,” she said.
“As it relates to which sanctions options will be chosen, we don’t preview those sanctions in advance.”
At the same time, Turkey has commissioned Russian S-400 missile systems
As we reported yesterday [July 20 – ed.] Russian air defense systems S-400 “Triumph” took up combat duty in Turkey and can now be used directly for their intended purpose – to protect the country’s borders from any external air threats and missile attacks.
Such conclusions follow on the basis of the fact that the United States of America announced the imposition of sanctions against Turkey – the latter should have been imposed only if Ankara adopted Russian complexes for the country’s armament.
Information on this matter was announced by Congressman Adam Kinzinger, noting that the sanctions have already been actually introduced – only the formal consideration of this bill in the US Congress remains.
“Today, representatives of Adam Kinsinger, Abigail Spanberger and member of the House Foreign Representatives Rating Committee, Michael McCall, introduced a bill that would impose sanctions on the Turkish government for acquiring the S-400 air defense system from the Russian Federation” said the congressman’s website.
The bipartisan bill on countering arms export from Russia will define this acquisition by Turkey as a significant deal in accordance with section 231 of the Countering America’s Enemies through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
“The NATO Alliance is extremely important to the United States and our allies, but in order to maintain it in close partnership, our NATO members must abide by the principles, responsibilities and obligations of our alliance,” said Congressman Kinzinger.
“Turkey continues to make dubious decisions that do not reflect the leadership of the NATO country, and a year ago this week Turkey ignored warnings of NATO members about this arms deal with Russia and adopted its first batch of Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. We need to make it clear that their actions will not be tolerated and will have serious consequences. Our legislation will do this and position Turkey’s actions as a clearly punishable crime,” said also the congressman’s website.
This is the first time that the United States has imposed sanctions on its military partners, however, experts believe that such US actions will not remain unanswered.
“An attempt by the United States to play against Erdogan will result in very serious problems for Washington, including the possible closure of Turkish airspace for US military aircraft, closing the passage through the Bosphorus, expelling the American military from the country, etc.” said some political and military experts
A representative of the US Congress announced the imposition of sanctions against Turkey for the acquisition of Russian S-400 air defense systems, noting that this was due to demonstrating to the world that Washington was determined to respond to any threats both by the United States and NATO partners.
Ankara has not officially announced the adoption of the Russian S-400 systems for the country’s armament, however, experts believe that this could have been done specifically in order to avoid possible measures by the United States of America.
“Turkey paid over a billion dollars for the Russian S-400s not to be stored in packaging. Obviously, this could simply not have been advertised,” the specialist notes.
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