Turkey has reportedly hired a Washington-based law firm to lobby for its readmission into the US F-35 stealth fighter program, from which it was suspended due to Ankaras’ acquisition of missile defense systems Russian advanced S-400.
The hiring of law firm Arnold & Porter on a six-month contract worth $ 750,000 is described in a filing with the US Department of Justice, Reuters reported on February 19.
As it stands, NATO member Turkey may not be able to source a fleet of the world’s most advanced fighter jets, namely fifth generation aircraft, while watching other countries, including Greece, its regional rival, advance with their orders for such aircraft. An alternative could be the Russian Sukhoi Su-57, which recently entered service with the Russian Air Force, but acquiring more high-end military hardware from the Kremlin might not be the way forward if Ankara wishes. stay on good terms with Washington. .
Before the S-400 dispute, Ankara expected to buy more than 100 F-35 stealth fighters. Turkish defense contractors remain employed in manufacturing parts for the production of the F-35 although Turkey is suspended from the F-35 program, the United States and its allies have not been able to quickly transfer the Turkish component contracts to other countries, but the US administration Biden has so far stuck to the line that the F-35s cannot enter service with the Turkish Air Force because the Their performance data security could be jeopardized by the Turkish operation of its S-400s.
Advice and awareness
The contract with Arnold & Porter covers strategic advice and relations with the American authorities. Ankara has said its withdrawal from the F-35 program is unfair and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he hopes for positive developments under US President Joe Biden.
The contract was signed with Ankara-based SSTEK Defense Industry Technologies, owned by Turkey’s Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), the main authority in Ankara’s defense industry. Arnold & Porter will advise on a strategy to keep SSB and Turkish entrepreneurs in the [F-35] Joint Strike Fighter Program, taking into consideration and addressing the complex geopolitical and business factors involved, states the contract.
Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said Turkey has already paid for some F-35 planes. Even a hangar fee was levied on Turkey for jets it could not take delivery, he said in a NATO-related event on February 18, Reuters reported.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, speaking after a meeting of NATO defense ministers this week, said he had made it clear to our allies that the licensing, attempted sanctions or even the threat of sanctions against Turkey only weakened the alliance.
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