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Turkey’s Role in F-35 Parts to Continue Until 2022

The United States will continue to buy F-35 Lightning II parts from Turkey despite removing Turkey from the F-35 program. The United States will continue to buy parts for the F-35 Joint Assault Aircraft from Turkey by 2022, although Ankara has purchased the Russian S-400 air defence system, the Pentagon's top procurement official said.

Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of purchasing at the secretary of Defence, said the Pentagon should continue to buy Turkish-made parts in order to maintain production. Lord said Turkish factories are currently producing more than 900 parts for the F-35's mid-body, cockpit imaging systems and other components, noting that stopping the purchase of parts from Turkey would slow down the production of the aircraft, causing a $1 billion in replacement costs. “Therefore, we have decided that it is wiser to continue the purchase of parts from Turkey. Thus, we will not cover the costs of termination obligations,” she said.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, questioned whether the continued purchase of parts from Turkey had the potential to allow sensitive information on the F-35's stealthy technology to be passed on to Russia.

“We have worked very, very closely with Turkey” to prevent the possibility of Russia gaining an edge, Lord said, but she declined to give details, and suggested scheduling a closed session for further discussion.

In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Defence posted on its website that eight F-35A Lightning II aircraft was taken into the U.S. Air Force (United States Air Force/USAF) inventory after Turkey was removed from the F-35 program.

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