A bi-partisan group of US Lawmakers have moved a bill seeking sanctions against Turkey for buying the Russian S-400 air defence systems even as a Turkish official said the F-35 price could rise by up to $9 million apiece if his country were to be removed from supplying parts for the jet.
Turkish companies’ removal from the F-35 fighter jet project would cost the program $600 million, besides increasing the cost per aircraft by $7 million to $9 million, Turkish Defense Industries Presidency (SSB) Chairman Ismail Demir said Thursday.
Demir was speaking at a video-conference organized by the Washington branch of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (FPESR) on defense cooperation between Turkey and the US
Turkey is ready for mutual work to find a solution for the concerns of Washington, Demir said, adding that the US is “very close” to agreeing to mutual dialogue.
Republican lawmakers Adam Kinzinger and Michael McCaul besides Democratic US representative Abigail Spanberger introduced legislation on Friday to impose sanctions on Turkey over the purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems, Kinzinger said in a statement posted on his website.
The bill introduced by the representatives, Countering Russia’s Export of Arms Act, “would designate this acquisition by Turkey as a significant transaction pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA),” the statement read.
The US has already seized six aircraft meant for transfer to Turkey. The 2020 US National Defence Authorization Act empowers the US Air Force to take control and operate the Turkey-designated Jets.
Turkey has so far not protested the loss of its airplanes nor has it initiated any efforts to recover the $1Billion advance it paid for the jets.
Ankara has said Turkey will continue manufacturing components for F-35 fighter jets through 2022, despite its jets being seized by the Pentagon for buying the S-400.
Pentagon spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell said in late June that Turkish companies would keep producing 139 components of the jets until 2022. “Our industry partners will carry out the continuing contracts,” she said, adding that the Pentagon was still looking for alternatives to Turkey.
James Stavridis, the US’ former Europe force commander, who participated in the FPESR video-conference with Demir, said Turkey's geographical position is critical for the NATO alliance, and it is “also very important for the United States.”
Stavridis noted, “Turkey is extremely important for NATO’s fighting force with its military power and capacity that the country has reached today.” Despite some tactical differences between the U.S. and Turkey, both countries need to understand each other in terms of strategic relations, he added.