May 12 2018

Turkey’s first F-35 fighter jet makes maiden flight in Texas

The first of the Turkish Armed Forces’ new F-35A fighter jets, which are at the center of an ongoing dispute between the United States and Turkey due to the latter’s purchase of S-400 air defense systems from Russia, performed its maiden flight at producer Lockheed Martin’s Ft. Worth facility in Texas on Friday, the aviationist website reported.

The F-35A piloted by US Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson took off at 14.47LT and landed at 16.00LT, the website said.

The first of 100 F-35As on order are expected in Turkey as soon as Jun. 21, in the United States. The jets will then be brought to Turkey in September of 2019, state run Anadolu News Agency reported.

The high-tech fighters boast impressive specifications, with one version including both stealth and vertical take-off capabilities.

On May 8, a bill was proposed to the U.S. Congress, calling for a report on U.S.-Turkish relations and demanding the suspension of U.S. weapons sales to Turkey until the report’s publication.

Turkey was quick to hit back at the proposed bill with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoğlu saying Turkey would retaliate if the United States enacts a proposed law that would halt weapons sales to the country.

Turkey will station the fighter jets due to arrive from the U.S. in June in the Eastern Anatolian province of Malatya, at base safeguarding its borders with Iraq, Iran and Syria, pro government Hürriyet Daily News reported.