Trump signs bill blocking transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey
U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed a spending bill that blocks the transfer of the country’s F-35 new generation fighter jets to Turkey.
According to spending bill signed by Trump on Friday, delivery of the jets to Turkey will be blocked until the U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense submit an update to the report regarding the purchase of Turkey of the S–400 missile defense system from the Russian Federation.
In earlier report to the Congress in late November, Pentagon said Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile systems could result in Ankara’s potential expulsion from the F-35 program, as well as affecting its acquisition of other weapons including Boeing Co.’s CH-47F Chinook helicopter and Lockheed’s F-16 fighter and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the purchase and stated that there was no turning back from receiving the S-400 air defense systems from Russia in 2019.
Turkey expects the delivery of the defence missiles to start this year with Russian officials promising the delivery within this year.
The Congressional bill requires the U.S. departments to include a detailed description of plans for the imposition of sanctions, if Turkey goes ahead with the S-400 systems pursuant to section 231 of the Countering Russian Influence in Europe and Eurasia Act of 2017 (Public Law 115–44).
The Congress asks U.S. secretaries to deliver the report by November 1, 2019.
The same spending bill also blocks the sale of weapons to Erdoğan’s security guards unless Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informs Congress that the guards charged with the assault on protestors in Washington, DC in May of 2017 have been brought to the court.
A U.S. delegation visited Ankara in December, after the U.S. State Department informed the U.S. Congress that it had approved a $3.5-billion sale of Patriot air defence batteries to Turkey. The delegation reportedly set the cancellation of the S-400 deal as a prerequisite for the purchase of U.S.-made system.
The informal deadline for Patriot offer was on February 15th and the official deadline in March.
“The Russians said they would to deliver the S-400s in a short time both for a very good price and promising technology transfer,” the chairman of parliament’s foreign affairs committee, Volkan Bozkır told reporters in Ankara last week, following a visit to Washington. “Therefore we signed the deal for the purchase of S-400 systems as it addressed our needs and the main part of the payments have been made, while the efforts is going ahead for delivery to Turkey in November.”
According to the latest Congressional bill signed by Trump, the U.S. will wait until November to make its decision. Meanwhile, the Russian S-400s are expected to be delivered to Turkey by July 2019.
Erdogan, on Monday, repeated his conditions for the agreement to purchase Patriot missile defense systems from the U.S.
Turkey’s strongman said technology transfer, co-production and financial support have not been offered by Washington to convince Ankara to purchase the Patriots.