The F-35 fighter jets, which were developed for Turkey, will be purchased by the United States. The announcement ends the speculation surrounding the fate of F-35s produced for Turkey after Ankara was kicked out of the F-35 program by Washington.
The U.S. military has confirmed it will purchase Turkish F-35 fighter jets, ending speculation after Turkey was expelled from the joint strike fighter programme last year.
As reported by EurAsian Times earlier, Turkey was expelled from the joint strike fighter programme after it bought the Russian S-400 air defence system.
The US said that it is expelling Turkey from its F-35 fighter jets programme after Ankara received the first parts of a Russian air defence system. The US says the “F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities”.
At that point, Turkey’s first F-35s had already rolled off the production line and its pilots and maintainers were training to fly and fix them stateside alongside U.S. personnel at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., and Eglin Air Force Base.
The U.S. Air Force will now buy eight F-35A conventional jets originally built by Lockheed Martin for Turkey as part of an $862 million contract. The deal also contains an additional six F-35As built with modifications that will bring the Turkish aircraft in line with the U.S. configurations.
Turkey had originally planned to buy 100 F-35As and took ceremonial delivery of the first two in June 2018. The planes were delivered to the Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, Arizona, where Turkish pilots and maintainers were training to fly and fix them.
The US maintains that the S-400 is not compatible with NATO systems and threatens the stealth capabilities of the new fighter jets. Turkey has disputed this and said that the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO’s defences.
The S-400 is one of the most advanced air defence systems in the world. Produced by Russia, the S-400 has also been exported to Belarus, China, India and Turkey.