U.S. Senate passes bill that could block sale of F-35 jets to Turkey

The US Senate on Monday voted in favour of blocking the transfer of 100 F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, following months of increasing tension over the $10bn sale between Ankara and Washington, Financial Times reported. 

The United States is due to deliver the first of F-35 jets to Turkey this month, however, the proposed bill looking to block the sale of the jets due to Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems in addition to Turkey’s detainment of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, is likely to delay the sale.

U.S. Senate’s Monday evening vote of 85 to 10 will prohibit the transfer of F-35s to Turkey until the secretary of defence submits a plan to remove Turkey from participation in the programme, Financial Times said.

Ankara is slated to buy two batteries of S-400 missiles from Russia, which United States and NATO officials have repeatedly criticized due to what they say is the Russian system’s incompatibility with NATO systems.

Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-35, said it still expects to hand over initial F-35s to Turkey in a ceremonial exchange at Fort Worth in Texas on June 21, before the bill becomes law, according to Financial Times.