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US Ready to ‘Welcome Back’ Turkey into the F-35 Fighter Jet Family

Turkey was originally slated to acquire 100 units of the Lockheed Martin-produced F-35 aircraft, however, Washington "excluded" Ankara from the F-35 development program after the Mediterranean country proceeded to purchase the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.

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(DEFENCE SECURITY ASIA) — The United States is prepared to “welcome back” Turkey into the fifth-generation fighter jet program, F-35, despite ongoing disagreements between the two countries regarding Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.

This was explicitly stated by the Acting Under Secretary of State of the United States, Victoria Nuland, during an interview in Turkey.

“If we can resolve the issue of the S-400 air defense system (purchased by Turkey from Russia), which we (the United States) want to resolve, the United States is very pleased to welcome Turkey back into the F-35 family.”

“If we can overcome this issue, the CAATSA issue will disappear, and we can resume discussions about the F-35,” she said.

Nuland mentioned that both countries negotiated Turkey’s acquisition of the Patriot air defense system, but the discussions took an unexpected turn when the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan suddenly shifted its stance and purchased the S-400 system from Russia.

The United States is keen on resolving all issues with Turkey and ensuring that the Mediterranean country has robust air defense capabilities.

Turkey supposed to received 100 F-35 fighter aircrafts from the US, but the Mediterranean was “kick-out” of the program when it procure the Russian-made S-400 air defence system. 


Turkey was initially slated to receive 100 F-35 aircraft from the Lockheed Martin company, but Washington decided to “exclude” Turkey from the development program after Ankara purchased the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.

As a crucial NATO member, Turkey was given “priority” in acquiring these fifth-generation aircraft.

Furthermore, Ankara had made an initial payment of $1.4 billion to the United States to participate in the aircraft development program.

Turkey’s decision to acquire the S-400 system from Russia came after its request to obtain the U.S.-made Patriot air defense system was rejected by Washington.

Despite the Erdogan administration’s repeated requests for the return of the $1.4 billion advance payment or an alternative defense product, Washington has not entertained these requests.

Turkish F-35 when unveiled in 2018


The United States is concerned that Russia might use the S-400 air defense system it supplied to Turkey gathering sensitive information about the capabilities of the F-35 aircraft.

Recently, the United States granted permission for Turkey to acquire 40 F-16 Block 70 and 79 fighter jets, along with modernization kits valued at $23 billion, following the approval of legislation allowing Sweden to join NATO by the Turkish parliament.

 Turkey is among the largest users of F-16 fighter jets outside the United States, with a fleet of over 250 of these aircraft.

However, a few hours after granting approval to Turkey, Washington informed its Congress of its intention to sell 40 fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets to Turkey’s “adversary,” Greece.

The estimated value of the F-35 fighter jets destined for Greece is $8.6 billion. – DSA

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