The United States said on Wednesday that it was removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme, a move that had been long threatened and expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of an advanced Russian missile defence system last week.
“The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the programme and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the programme,” said Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment at the Pentagon.
Lord said moving the supply chain for the advanced fighter jet would cost the US between $500m and $600m in non-recurring engineering costs.
Turkey makes more than 900 parts of the F-35, she said, adding the supply chain would transition from Turkish to mainly US factories as Turkish suppliers are removed.
“Turkey will certainly and regrettably lose jobs and future economic opportunities from this decision,” Lord said. “It will no longer receive more than nine billion dollars in projected work share related to the F-35 over the life of the programme.”
“We invite the United States to return from this mistake which would open irreparable wounds in strategic relations,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said after the Pentagon’s announcement.
“Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible. The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” the White House said Wednesday, adding that there will be “detrimental impacts” on Turkey’s participation in NATO.
Not a week ago Turkey accepted delivery of the Russian-made S-400, a mobile surface-to-air missile system, that is said to pose a risk to the NATO alliance as well as Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter jet.