The United States expelled Turkey from the F-35 program and blocked the sale of about 100 ordered stealth jets as a result of Israel’s effective lobbying of the same, Israeli media have reported.
Officials from Jerusalem are said to have pressured Washington behind the scenes to oust Ankara from fighter jet program in bid to preserve military qualitative edge, Channel 12 reported Wednesday.
With the successful S-400 purchase, Turkey gained advanced air capabilities. Just as in the case with the US authorities, Israeli officials too were perturbed that details of aircraft fed into the Russian system to enable it to distinguish between friend or foe could “leak to neighbouring countries.”
The White House has said that the American fighter jet program “cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”
Contrary to the US and Israeli claims, Turkey has said that the S-400 will not pose a threat to the American warplane, and has urged the US to do a one-eighty on its decision to axe its participation in the program.
Ankara has pumped in nearly $1.2 billion worth of investment in the fighter program. The country has manufactured nearly 900 components of the F-35.
Israel has so far agreed to purchase 50 of the fifth-generation fighters. The country received 2 new F-35 “Adir” fighters in July 2019, taking the total number of aircraft currently with the Israeli forces to 16.