The United States National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2021 has authorized the Air Force to utilize, modify, and operate six Turkish F-35s that were manufactured but never delivered because Turkey was suspended from the F-35 program.
The NDAA which is expected to be passed into law will mean the official exit from the F-35 program for Turkey for continuing with the purchase and operation of the Russian S-400 air defence system (ADS).
The NDAA bill makes no mention of the $1.5 billion advance paid by Turkey to buy the aircraft. Ankara has demanded a refund following the US not delivering two aircraft as per schedule.
Of the six aircraft, two were being used to train Turkish pilots when the row with the US broke out in 2018.
The closure to Turkey's quest for F-35 jets is expected to make it go closer to Russia for modern jets and accelerate efforts on its TX jet project.
There are reports that Ankara may retaliate by restricting US military aircraft flights from its Incirlik air base.
Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said it would be "robbery" for the United States to deny Turkey the F-35 fighter jets it has bought. "If you have a customer and that customer is making payments like clockwork, how can you not give that customer their goods? The name of that would be robbery," he had told Hurriet Daily in July 2019.
In May 2020, Turkish Defence Industry Director Ismail Demir had said that the US continues to source F-35 parts from Turkish industries. “Our companies continue their production and delivery,” Demir said in an interview to Reuters.
Link to Defenseworld.net video on Turkey's F-35 saga