The United States is “unwinding” Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme as a result of the country buying the Russian S-400 air defense missile system, Pentagon officials have said.

Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord and Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy David J. Trachtenberg told reporters in the Pentagon that Turkey has taken delivery of the Russian-built system.

“Turkey cannot have both the Russian system and the fifth-generation fighter.”

Trachtenberg called the development unfortunate and said the U.S. government has worked tirelessly to avoid the necessity.

“But let me be clear, the United States greatly values our strategic relationship with Turkey — that remains unchanged,” he said.

“As long-standing NATO allies, our relationship is multilayered and extends well beyond the F-35 partnership. We will continue our extensive cooperation with Turkey across the entire spectrum of our relationship.”

The U.S. government has been clear over the course of this procurement that Turkey can acquire the S-400 or the F-35, but not both, he said.

“Our response today is a specific response to a specific event,” he said.

“It is separate and distinct from the broader range of security interests where the United States and Turkey work together against common threats. Our military-to-military relationship remains strong, and we will continue to participate with Turkey in multilateral exercises to improve readiness and interoperability.”

The United States offered Turkey the Patriot missile defence system. Since early 2017, when Turkey began publicly discussing its interest in the Russian-made S-400 system, all levels of the US government consistently communicated to all levels of the Turkish government that the F-35 and S-400 are incompatible, Lord said.

“Turkey cannot field a Russian intelligence collection platform in proximity to where the F-35 program makes repairs and houses F-35s,” Lord said.

“Much of the F-35 strengths lie in its stealth capabilities. So the ability to detect those capabilities would jeopardize the long-term security of the F-35 program. We seek to protect the security of the F-35.”

Turkey made more than 900 parts for the F-35, that work will be picked up by American suppliers at first, but will open to other nations in the months ahead.

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Daniele Mandelli

Has Turkey actually taken delivery of an F35 Jet yet?


I believe it “owns” four but they are all located in the USA. Much like our early ones – used for training and testing. The USA stopped training Turkish pilots months ago.

I guess the USA just hand their money back and keep the jets.

Daniele Mandelli

Morning Simon. Thank you.

Good. No issues then. I was concerned they already had their mitts on it and would just invite Russia and China for a play.


Great potential opportunity for the UK then. We should at least be in line to garner a good portion of this as the only Level One partner particularly as we have almost everything in place already!


I would imagine Japan have a stronger case seeing as they are now the second biggest buyer.


Hi T.S…good point but the UK has the largest share of the work after the USA and may be better geared for it. Sure we will get at least some!


Is there any split in the type of work, i.e. manufacturing contributions vs service centres? I take the point on Japanese level of commitment that I am sure would influence things but on service centres, e.g. main engine that I believe was to be in Turkey, are service centres duplicated regionally in any way such that the European main engine servicing might be up for grabs and not appropriate for someone like Japan to host? It would be a lot easier for the Europeans to have servicing on their doorstep without needing to get F-35 main engines to and back… Read more »


I believe the UK has agreed to use the Norwegian F-35 engine service depot.

If Poland is coming onboard and another European engine service depot is needed to replace Turkey I would be inclined it goes there. They are solid NATO partners that can be trusted.


That’s a shame. I’d thought there was only one service depot per major reason, wasn’t even aware of the Norwegian facility. Shows what I know! Thanks for the info.

Given the Norway depot then I agree that geographically UK wouldn’t make much sense for any extra capacity needed & agree with comments on Poland.


There is also an engine servicing centre in the Netherlands. No need for an additional one in Europe. There was no-one but the Turks (and possibly the USAF in some form of goodwill gesture) who were going to use the Turkish facilities.

Andrew Smith

Except Poland could become politically un reliable with their existing right wing government suppressing democratic institutions. And where there any fall with Russia the facility would be under threat

Andrew Smith

I believe Turkey had aahor facility for re building engines as well. Nothings been said about this. That work will have to go to existing facilities. Presumably the Turkish one was for Europe…..


Ah. Thanks Andrew. That’s the one I was thinking of but not fully understanding, a really deep (as in total rebuild) maintenance facility rather than servicing depots. If that rebuild facility is indeed a one-off for Europe then I would love the UK to get that. That’s also seems a dangerous thing to have had in Turkey since presumably the rebuild gives staff a much better chance to dissect and look more deeply at the details of the engine construction.


Good old Russia, you have to give it to them. They are masters of meddling and are playing the old ‘divide and conquer’ game. I read they are now offering their fighter jets as Turkey will be short of jets. The US and NATO are going to have to play it very carefully here or Turkey may soon be totally under the influence sphere of our Russian neighbours. If we loose turkey it could make it very difficult to operate in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. The US must not impose sanctions and we must hope for a… Read more »


However, this decision is right as we can’t have our multi billion pound investment compromised. It’s a strange decision on Turkeys part – surely getting F35’s and taking up the offer of the Patriot system is better than just getting the S400 system, even if the S400 is slightly better than Patriot, although is that even the case? Russia are known to over state their capabilities and India came out this week slating the Russian air to air missiles they had bought due to the range not being even near to as advertised.


I think Turkey would have been getting the dumbed down version of S400. You could say, we (NATO) would have had a golden opportunity to test the system against the claims. Would Russia want to risk having the S400 thoroughly examined, I doubt it very much. There’s more going on here, especially as Russia are saying Turkey can have the Su57s. So that would be two of Russia’s premier weapons being sold to a NATO country. Sorry, it doesn’t add up.


One would have to look at a number of events leading to the purchase of S-400s by Turkey. Under there Barak Obama presidency, an agreeable deal for the acquisition of Patriate missiles by Turkey could not be reached, at the same time, the U.S. government were arming Kurdish separatists (known as terrorists by Turkey) in Syria. The Downing of the Russian jet over Turkish airspace. Then there was the coup attempt, including an assassination attempt of President Erdogan’s life. Now that Turkey has normalised its relations with Russia, they (Turkey have ordered the S-400 missile system but only after it… Read more »

James Harrington

TS, hello, I have been following the F35 sage for 20 years as most of us on here have, and as you know the jet was compromised by massive cyber thefts years ago. Although I don’t know this I have always suspected that many of the delays in this project were due to that early cyber theft and efforts to protect the systems from cyber interference. Regards.


I thought Patriots effectiveness was seriously doubted(hopefully fixed by now!). In the gulf war the properganda lauded it v Iraqi Scuds, but the reality was it performed poorly. The S400 is the nighmare of our air forces.
Do we really need an ally that helped fund ISIS by buying their oil & supports Assad?


This is a peculiar development, given that Turkey actually went as far as shooting down a Russian jet in 2015. But yes, it is worrying that we could be seeing Turkey being pushed towards leaving NATO because of this latest development.

Geoffrey Roach

I’m only guessing Dan but I think this has a lot to do with the Turkish president, political mileage and face saving. Internal politics in the country are a mess.

Barry Larking

Agreed Geoffrey. Erdogan is a popularist who makes the competition look like Eleanor Roosevelt. He has rowed Turkey away from Kemal Atturk’s legacy of secularism, re-introduced Islamic practices and governance from the time of the Ottomans. Constantinople might be progressive, but, like Erdogan’s friends the Iranian’s, a very large part of the population is old school backward. This move was inevitable. But I suspect the U.S. is hoping Erdogan is a temporary blip, so won’t give up on Turkey as such. The quicker the west gets out of the oil economy the sooner none of this will matter.


This is all about Edogan trying to bluff the USA for internal politics and never believing that they’d be thrown out of the F35 programme. He now has egg on his face.


The US government is obliged by recent legislation to impose sanctions on states making large purchases of Russian equipment unless it’s for maintenance reasons. Though the choice as to the nature of the sanctions is up to the White House.


I am very doubtful Turkey will leave the N.A.T.O. alliance and then join the same alliance Russia and China are a part of. You have to remember, the Pentagon has a different view on the S-400/F-35 matter compared with President Trump. The Pentagon wants to punish Turkey to the maximum possible level with bans and sanctions. President Trump doesn’t blame Turkey for making the wrong purchase decision. He actually blames the previous President Obama. President Obama also decided to arm the Kurdish separatists in Syria with a variety of weapons angering Turkey’s government. President Trump is reluctant to give Turkey… Read more »


If the goverment is smart they will be rushing to secure the Turkish share. But there hasn’t been a smart British goverment in years so they’ll either make no effort at all or dally and dither until it’s too late.


Government and Smart is an oxymoron especially when it comes to Defence.

James Harrington

Mike, that’s very cynical of you. It was the first thing in my thoughts as well, sadly so true. I dont see that dynamic changing either.


Guilty as charged James. That is what 33 years service does to you….. ?


you would imagine that if we are going to be shafted by the US with a trade deal then we should be pushing VERY hard to win the F35 center from Turkey. If we can’t do that then it just shows how weak we’ll be as “independents”. Could be a big aerospace manufacturing facility outside Chester becoming available in years to come…

James Harrington

We should use whatever leverage we have, if any, to secure as much of the Turkish work we can.


Spot on.


It would nice if the Greeks who are our real and long terms allies in the region could participate in some way.


It would be nice but they simply cannot afford it at this point


Agreed. I think Erdogan’s time might be limited anyway.


The Turks have always had an identity problem-East or West, European or Asian?

J Peter Wilson

Not only is the ex-Turkish work-share up for grabs, what about the 100 F-35As that Turkey was going to buy. Perhaps with the UK proposing to increase our defence spending from 2% to 2.5-3.5% of GNP then there might be a case for the UK to purchase, in addition to our 138 F-35Bs, some of these F-35As to help fill the time until Team Tempest is producing our sixth-generation combat jets.

Meirion X

No commitment from the UK Government to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GNP yet!
So a purchase of F-35As will potentially drain funds to develop the Tempest program, which is critical for the future of British aviation.


Aside from the 4 in the USA, most of those 100 F35s haven’t been built yet. So switch assembly of some of them to the F35B and speed up U.K. acquisition/delivery.

Chris H

@Sean – Totally agree. Some common sense right there …

Chris H

@ J Peter Wilson – Oh please no! Not the ‘buy loads of F-35As’ pitch again …
When will people realise the F-35A adds NOTHING to what we are already committed and to what we have with the upgraded Typhoon / F-35B combination.

Its like some folks still think the F-35s are replacing Tornado….

J Peter Wilson

No, I don’t think that the F-35A replaces the Typhoon (by the way an excellent aircraft with loads of further potential) or any F-35As should be substituted for F35Bs. It was if we had any extra defence budget, as promised by both Conservative candidates, then having some of the ex-Turkish F-35As would enable us to closely work alongside our NATO allies with F-35As to help their defence. Just a thought.


All 4 of them?!?


Looks as though the Russians are trying to take advantage of the situation…


Steve Martin

Will they buy it though? Big decisions to be made if so.


I wouldn’t bet a penny against the odds. Turkey under Erdogan is NOT a friend…



Turkey is solely responsible for manufacturing 400 different parts for the F-35, the main component being the panoramic cockpit displays that go into all F-35 variants. Surprisingly the US DOD has only requested to reprogram $206 million to find new suppliers.


BAe has already sourced similar display panels for the advanced Hawk prototype, the very purpose of this was to mimic the F35 displays for training. Hopefully BAe sourced them from a UK supplier.

John Hampson

Sorry to bring up Brexit but may be relevant here. Turkey, a tier 3 partner, by varoius threats extracted the only European major engine overhaul facility for the F35 program, and also I believe the only F-35 carbon fibre fabrication plant. Turkey was selected, to provide “Heavy Engine MRO&U” and deep maintenance of all engines for all F-35 aircraft based in Europe. The Turkish Engine MRO&U facility is planned to support 1400 + jobs. Now that Turkey is being “unwound” Brexit has strengtherned the case to relocate the engine work here. The £ has depreciated about 16% against the $,… Read more »


Well that was predictable. I wonder if the reason before the official US announcement, was to give the US time to move critical assets out of Incirlik?


Lol it just keeps getting better for Turkey
Apparently the production lines have stopped for their helicopter (based on Leonardo design). Apparently RR have stopped engine deliveries
If this is true, link is only a tweet and i have not seen any reliable info yet, then that foolish egomaniac Erdogan is making things worse for Turkey


The direction Erdogans Turkey is taking chills me, but so does Trump. Sadly the west has been allies with many obnoxious authoritarians over the years & I’d question if we’re making any progress ourselves.

James Petty

TheF-35 is basically a reincornatef F-111 to many problem software issues what about countries still holding on to their F-4 New Production F-6-15-18what wrong with this picture band do we even keep nukes in Turkey

Albert Hall

Several items. BAE BRITISH AEROSPACE and ENGINEERING had it’s own Stealth program that had got as far as an operational mock-up stage demonstrator. Both the wing, pilot control and lift engine modules were more advanced than the USA. BEA [UK] and Rolls -Royce [RR] were awarded a contract to produce substaintial F5 35 sub-systems for the F35 project and it’s has become THE largest defence contract ever awarded to a supplier outside of the USA. BAE was also allowed to acquire LOCKHEED-MARTIN ELECTRONICS in the USA. BAE has now been alloted a sum of £UK2.5 BILLION/$US 3 billion] to develope… Read more »

Matthew East

As an aussie I want to see us increase our work share too. As it is between Canada and Turkey they both received quite a large share that should be divided up between nations that have placed actual firm orders based on a order/investment metric. Both the UK and Australia deserve more work based on what has been invested and ordered. Uk can take Turkeys work, Australia will take Canada’s work.. Deal? :p


Aussie aussie, aussie! Oy, Oy, oy! Aussie, aussie! Oy, oy, oy!