Turkey will make F-35 parts through 2022, Pentagon official says

Turkish contractors will continue to make key components of the F-35 fighter jet until the end of 2022, despite Ankara being officially expelled from the programme over its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday citing a U.S. defence official. 

Turkey will continue to make components for the fuselage as well as 139 parts of its engine propulsion system, Bloomberg said. 

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a U.S. Defence Department spokesman, said in a statement cited by Bloomberg that a decision was made late last year “to honour existing contractual arrangements, and accept delivery of parts that were already on contract”.

He said that the goal was to “avoid costly, disruptive, and wasteful contract terminations”. 

Andrews said that alternate sources “have been identified for all Turkish-made parts and will be utilised as the Turkish contracts lapse and material is delivered”.

However, Turkey is still banned from buying the plane built by Lockheed Martin Corp. 

Turkey was an original F-35 partner. Its planned purchase of about 100 jets made it one of the four top foreign customers for the fighter jet, but it placed only six aircraft on contract before it was expelled from the programme last year.

The United States has said Turkey’s Russian S-400 air defence system is not compatible with NATO systems and threatens the stealth capabilities of the new fighter jets. 

Turkey has disputed this and said that the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO’s defences. Turkey had previously said it would make the Russian missile defence systems operational in April, but such a move had not yet been made.

Turkey is a global leader in aerospace manufacturing, and 10 Turkish companies were on track to make about $12 billion in F-35 parts, Bloomberg said. Turkish companies made 817 of the jet’s approximately 24,000 airframe part types and 188 of approximately 3,000 engine part types, according to Pentagon data cited by Bloomberg.

The expulsion of Turkish manufacturers from the F-35 fighter jet programme threatened to worsen its existing supply chain delays, Defense News reported in May.