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Turkey takes final step to revive F-35 fighter deal with United States

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Turkey has hired a Washington-based law firm to push for its reinstatement in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program after the United States excluded the country from the deal following the purchase of S-400 defense systems to Russia.

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Turkey had placed an order to receive more than 100 F-35 stealth fighters and was manufacturing parts for their production.

However, despite repeated warnings from the United States about its concentration on the purchase of the S-400 SAMs from Moscow, Turkey proceeded to purchase the lethal systems. The United States subsequently expelled the nation from the F-35 fighter program in 2019.

Considered the most advanced fighter aircraft, the fifth-generation single-engine, all-season, multi-role F-35 fighter is on the shopping list of many countries, including the United Arab Emirates.

While the Gulf nation is on the brink of a potential deal with the United States, Turkey remains a nation that Washington is keen not to provide stealth fighters.

S-400 Air Defense System

For Ankara, the acquisition of the Russian S-400s has been the biggest stumbling block in reaching a deal with Washington, which despises the systems because of the threat they pose to its prestigious F-35 fighters.

The Pentagon is of the view that F-35 fighters cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-gathering platform that it believes could be used against the fighters.

Known as the stealth killers, the S-400s are known to be the only defense systems capable of nullifying the stealth technology possessed by the F-35 fighter and taking them out.

However, despite their ban on the program, Turkish companies continued to produce parts of the US-made Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets.

Now, in order to further aid its potential return to the F-35 deal with the United States, Ankara has hired a law firm, Arnold & Porter, for strategic advice and relations with the United States authorities, in the under a six-month contract valued at $ 750,000.

f-35
F-35A (Image source: USAF Twitter)

According to Arnold & Porter filing notes, he is committed to continuously monitoring export controls and trade sanctions that may be relevant and to explaining such sanctions.

The contract, which entered into force on February 1, was signed with Ankara-based SSTEK Defense Industry Technologies, owned by the Turkish Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), the main authority in Ankara’s defense industry. .

(Arnold & Porter) will advise on a strategy for SSB and Turkish subcontractors to remain within the Joint Strike Fighter program, taking into account and addressing the complex geopolitical and business factors at play, the contract says.

The US decision to exclude Turkey from the F-35 program has hit the country hard, with Turkish defense companies facing a loss of around $ 12 billion.

Some companies continued to supply F-35 parts to Lockheed Martin until 2022 due to existing contractual commitments.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month called on the United States to make its decision, saying his country had received nothing despite such a payment.

Although we paid a hefty fee on the F-35s, the F-35s still weren’t given to us. It is a grave wrong that the United States has done against us as a NATO ally, Erdogan said.

According to Turkey’s communications director, Fahrettin Altun, Ankara had already paid for a few F-35 fighters.

Even a hangar fee was levied on Turkey for jets it could not take delivery, Altun said during a NATO-related event on February 18.

The United States also continues to pressure Turkey, urging it not to retain Russian missile systems.

We urge Turkey not to keep the S-400 system, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a press conference earlier this month.

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