Issue 62  
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Magazine News
11.05.2018 11:26

Has F-35 Entered the Fog?

Although Turkey-US military relations encounter tough challenges at times, these have been resolved so far under the premises of NATO. Does the current proposal for the F-35 stand for another challenge or is it a minor subject thrusted upon the agenda by political conjuncture?

Turkey’s status in the F-35 Program differs much from a position in an ordinary procurement program. As of 1999, Turkey adopted a visionary approach to participate in this strategic program in terms of investment and production. In this framework, particularly in aerospace industry, it realised a very significant integration via this program. Around $700m investment was allocated to this program. As a result, materials produced in Turkey became an integral part of the process, beginning with the first aircraft to enter the US inventory.  

Three Senators from the US Congress took initiative in favour of pastor Andrew Brunson, imprisoned in Turkey upon allegations that he has contacts with terrorist organisations. The congressmen thus made a proposal to the US Congress, which might have an impact on Turkish-US relations.

In the light of Turkey’s major investment in this program as well as the mission accorded to this aircraft for national defence, all eyes were set on this critical proposal. These Senators, two Republicans and one Democrat, demand that delivery of F-35 to Turkey be stopped. Given that the delivery of first aircraft is expected in June 2018, the proposal would have severe repercussions on bilateral relations if it passed from the Congress. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that, according to schedule, the aircraft would arrive Turkey in 2019. Before this date, any derogatory comment as to “delay in delivery”, would serve a political objective. We analysed the background of this bipartisan proposal as well as its implications for bilateral relations. Since the persons involved are politicians, this analysis inevitably deals with political moves; however, here we will focus on the political calendar rather than the political motive.

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