The United States National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 bill released Monday has prohibited the delivery of F-35 fighter aircraft to Turkey until the delivery of a report, which would include an assessment of changes in Ankara’s participation in the F-35 program.
The assessment also includes potential elimination of participation of Turkey in the F-35 program. The NDAA has expressed concerns over the issue of wrongful detention of US citizens in Turkey including Pastor Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge and has asked for immediate release.
Lockheed Martin rolled out the first F-35 fighters meant for Turkey in Fort Worth on June 21 this year. The US Senate had voted 85-10 for the annual National Defense Authorization Act during the proposal stage.
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.
"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 at the start of this month.
“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 had said.
“The final piece of legislation will exempt just three countries—India, Indonesia, and Vietnam—from a robust sanctions regime enacted and imposed last year,” Sen. Jim Inhofe Republican Senator from Oklahoma, who helped craft the annual defense bill as part of the House Armed Services Committee was quoted as saying by the Daily Beast Monday.
Turkey is likely to face Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for buying Russian S-400 missile defense system.