Senate Bill To Ban F-35 Sales To Turkey An Unprecedented Attempt To Check Erdogan's Actions
bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Lankford (R-OK), Tillis (R-NC), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) would prevent the transfer of F-35s to Turkey and keep the country from establishing a maintenance depot for the stealth fighters. Turkey has been one of six prime F-35 partner nations since 2002 and one of its biggest customers, with 116 of the stealth fighters on order. Under this legislation, the White House would to certify that Ankara isn't working to degrade NATO interoperability, exposing NATO assets to hostile actors, degrading the security of NATO member countries, seeking to import weapons from a foreign country under sanction by the U.S., and wrongfully or unlawfully detaining any American citizens.Though not specifically stated, the first four points deal almost entirely with Turkey's planned purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. Since 2015, the Turkish military has been looking to purchase a new, long-range SAM to replace a number of aging Cold War-era systems it still has in service. That year, a previous plan to buy Chinese FD-2000s collapsed amid pressure from the United States and other NATO members for many of the reasons Lankford and Shaheen cite in their proposed legislation. But in 2017, Turkey announced it had signed a contract with Russia to buy the S-400s, with an eye toward some level of domestic industrial cooperation or co-production, which had always been a major secondary goal for the deal. As they had when Turkish authorities said they were going to buy the Chinese weapons, the United States and other NATO members expressed their dismay over the plan, saying that the Russian systems wouldn't work with the alliances networks and other constructs and that they could risk exposing sensitive information to the Kremlin. Concerns about the potential of Moscow gaining information about the F-35 and how the S-400 performs against it have only grown since then, especially after Turkey stated that it would seek to fully integrate the F-35 with the rest of its own military networks.