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Turkey hires US lobbying firm to join F-35 Jet program

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Turkish government hired Washington DC-based law firm to push for readmission to US F-35 fighter program after country was suspended from purchasing Russian air defense systems, contract says filed with the US Department of Justice.

Turkey had ordered more than 100 F-35 planes and has started producing parts, but was pulled from the program in 2019 after purchasing Russian S-400 missile defense systems, which the U.S. government says threatens the F -35.

Under a six-month, $ 750,000 contract that began this month, Ankara has hired law firm Arnold & Porter for strategic advice and relations with US authorities. The Turkish government has said its withdrawal from the program is unfair and 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 for SSB and Turkish entrepreneurs to remain in the Joint Strike Fighter program, taking into account and addressing the complex geopolitical and business factors at play, the contract says.

Endy Zemenides, executive director of the Chicago-based company Hellenic American Board of Directors, told the Pappas Post that the contract was Turkey’s “latest shade of lipstick” meant to mask its unreliability as a US ally.

“[This contract] is like the other shades of lipstick or lobbying that Turkey has wasted tens of millions of lobbying for to be included in free trade agreements, to push against the imposition of CAATSA (Countering Americas Adversaries Through) sanctions. Sanctions Act), to lobby against recognition of the Armenian genocide in the Senate and the lifting of the arms embargo in Cyprus, or to lobby for the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, ”Zemenides said.

Zemenides said the law firm’s best efforts cannot hide the fact that Turkey does not belong to a US weapons program and that the country remains a “clear and present danger” to peace and stability.

Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the Armenian National Committee of America, called the contract a “dressing on a gunshot wound.”

“It sounds to me like a smart Arnold & Porter vice president who convinced Erdogan that the vast and growing divide between the United States and Turkey, induced by Erdogan himself, can be bridged – if only Ankara is willing. writing big K Street checks, ”Hamparian said. “The point is, Erdogan cannot get out of the deep and lasting evil he has inflicted on Washington.”

The Pentagon has said it will continue to depend on Turkish contractors for key F-35 components, even if their country remains banned from the program with sanctions imposed as recently as December 2020.

Fahrettin Altun, Ankara’s communications director, 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 at a NATO-related event on Thursday.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, speaking after a meeting of NATO defense ministers, said he had clearly brought to the attention of Turkey’s allies that the licensing, attempted sanctions or even the threat of sanctions only weakened alliances with the Eastern Mediterranean nation.

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