Turkish defence industry hires lobbyist to end F-35 programme expulsion

The Turkish defence industry hired Stephen Williams, a former executive of Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the F-35 fighter jet, to help it re-enter a programme to produce and buy the aircraft.

Williams, Lockheed Martin’s former regional president for continental Europe, has registered his Alexandria-based firm Pentagon Strategies under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) of the U.S. Department of Justice, news website Foreign Lobby Report said on Tuesday.

The United States ejected Turkey from the F-35 programme in July 2019 after it purchased the S-400 air defence system from Russia. It acquired the weapons from Moscow in defiance of the United States and NATO, which said that they were incompatible with NATO systems and threatened the aircraft’s stealth capabilities.

Williams told the Department of Justice that his firm is working for Turkey's Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) and state-owned Defence Industry Technologies (SSTEK), Foreign Lobby Report said.

Washington imposed sanctions on Ankara in December for its purchase of the S-400s, banning all export licenses and authorisations for the SSB. It also issued asset and visa restrictions against Ismail Demir, the body's president, and three other officials. 

SSTEK hired a Washington-based law firm to engage in lobbying efforts to get Turkey back into the F-35 programme, an earlier Foreign Lobby Report said in February.

SSTEK has signed a $750,000 contract with the Arnold & Porter law firm.