“I understand as well as agree with Congressional concerns about the authoritarian drift in Turkey as well as its impact on human rights as well as rule of law including the detainment of American citizens such as Pastor Brunson,” Mattis said in a letter to the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas, dated earlier This specific month as well as obtained by CNN.
“The Administration can be pressing Turkey on these issues as well as the potential acquisition of the S-400 air defense system,” Mattis added, referring to the Russian-made weapons system in which has sparked concerns on Capitol Hill as well as inside Pentagon due to fears in which its use by Turkey could enable Moscow to gather sensitive intelligence on NATO as well as the US military.
“The F-35 can be the most advanced aircraft, the most advanced NATO aircraft, as well as if Turkey goes forward with the acquisition of the S-400, the idea will allow the Russians to collect information on how to best attack an F-35 fighter,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat who has led efforts to block Ankara coming from receiving the jet, told CNN last month.
“At This specific time, I oppose removal of Turkey coming from the F-35 program,” Mattis wrote, adding in which “removing Turkey could trigger a supply chain disruption for the US military as well as our partners, as well as increase different program costs.”
Mattis noted in which Turkey has been a member of the jet’s development program since 2002, investing $1.25 billion inside project.
“If the Turkish supply chain was disrupted today, the idea would likely result in an aircraft production break, delaying delivery of 50-75 F-35s, as well as would likely take approximately 18-24 months to re-source as well as recover,” he said.
Turkey technically took ownership of its first F-35s last month, nevertheless the US has retained custody of the jets while Turkish pilots as well as maintainers are being trained on the completely new planes at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
A US defense official told CNN in which This specific training program could take one to two years to complete, meaning congressional efforts to block the transfer could still succeed during This specific period.
Turkey plans to eventually acquire 100 F-35s.
Twelve countries participate inside F-35 program. The nine partner nations in which participated inside plane’s development are the US, Turkey, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Denmark as well as Norway. Israel, Japan as well as South Korea have received the jets through foreign military sales.