Even as training of Turkish pilots and maintenance crew of F-35 aircraft has commenced in the United States, their ultimate transfer to Turkish soil could take up two years.
"Turkish F-35 Pilots and maintainers have already arrived at Luke Air Force base," Pentagon spokesman Col. Rob Manning was quoted as saying by Anadolu Monday.
“The US will maintain the custody of the aircrafts until it is transferred to partner countries and it will normally occur after the partner training is complete which will take approximately one to two years,” Manning said.
The company rolled out the F-35 fighters in Fort Worth on June 21 and the jets will now move on to Luke Air Base in Arizona where Turkish F-35 pilots and technicians will receive training until November 2019.
The ceremony occured just a couple of days after the Senate passed a $716 billion defense policy bill including an amendment prohibiting the sales of the F-35s to Turkey. The US Senate voted 85-10 for the annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which stipulates that US President Donald
Turkey has been a partner of the active development program of the US-led multinational Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program since the early 2000s and plans to upgrade its air defense with around 100 F-35s in the next decade.
Pentagon Spokesperson Lieut. Col. Mike Andrews, said the Pentagon "does not comment on proposed legislation" and Turkish pilots will continue training as long as "something" has not changed.
"The Senate voted to block. Now the Congress gets a vote, the president gets a vote," Andrews said in a response to a question about Pentagon's next-state plan. "What you asking me is to speculate.So all I can tell you is at the program right now -- they will continue to fly".