Early version of U.S. House bill seeks to prevent F-35 shipment to Turkey
A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Tuesday released an early version of a spending bill that seeks to prevent the shipment of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey amid increased tensions between the NATO allies over Ankara’s planned purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system, Reuters reported.
The bill by the House of Representatives appropriations committee forbids use of federal funds to deliver the F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, Reuters said, noting that the U.S. Congress often uses its control of federal government spending to influence policy through barring the use of funds. The measure would effectively prevent any spending on fuel or pilots to fly the fighter jets to Turkey.
Turkey’s planned purchase of the Russian S-400 systems has cast doubts on its original plan to buy 100 F-35A and dozens of F-35Bs. The U.S. officials have said Turkey’s plan to buy the Russian system, which they say is not compatible with that of NATO, would compromise the security of the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets.
The U.S. Congress passed legislation last year to block the delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey if the Turkish government took delivery of the Russian missiles and has threatened sanctions. Washington has also offered to sell Patriot air defence batteries to Turkey, should Ankara cancels the S-400 purchase.
In order to pass, the appropriations bill must be adopted by the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, and by the Senate, controlled by President Donald Trump’s Republicans.
The U.S. president must also sign it into law.
Ankara has repeatedly said it will go through the purchase of the S-400 despite U.S. pressure.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Wednesday dismissed reports that Turkey is discussing postponement or suspension of the delivery of the Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems at the request of the United States, Euronews Turkish reported.
“Postponement or suspension is not on the agenda. It’s a done deal, why would we discuss a delay?” it quoted Çavuşoğlu as saying.
Çavuşoğlu’s comments came after Bloomberg reported on Monday that Turkey was considering the request by U.S. officials to postpone the purchase of the Russian-made systems.
The foreign minister said negotiations continue with Washington on a joint commission on S-400s and F-35 fighter jets.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan put forward the proposal to create a joint commission on the Russian S-400 air defence system during phone call with his U.S. counterpart Trump on April 29, according to the Turkish Presidency.