U.S. officials take steps to halt transfer of F-35s to Turkey

U.S. lawmakers have launched two efforts to halt the transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey if Ankara accepts delivery of Russia’s S-400 missile defence systems.

U.S. senators on Thursday introduced a bill to prohibit the transfer of the F-35 to Turkey until the U.S. government is able to certify that Ankara will not take delivery of the Russian system.

Also on Thursday, Congressmen John Sarbanes and Gus Bilirakis submitted a letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging that no funds be made available to facilitate the F-35 delivery to Turkey until the Secretary of State certifies that Ankara is no longer purchasing Russia’s S-400 system. The letter, signed by 31 representatives, details the dangers of Turkey acquiring both the S-400 and F-35.

Turkey, a production partner in the trillion-dollar F-35 fighter jet programme, also wants to purchase the S-400 system, which the United States says would compromise the security of F-35 aircraft. Ankara has refused to back down, with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan saying last month that the S-400 agreement was a done deal.

"The prospect of Russia having access to U.S. aircraft and technology in a NATO country, Turkey, is a serious national and global security risk," said Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, one of the four co-authors of the bill.

"The integration of the Russian S-400 system into NATO military defence systems would threaten exposure of closely guarded U.S. and NATO military secrets -- including about the F-35, our most advanced stealth fighter jet," the Congressmen wrote. 

House letter F-35
House letter F-35