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US congressional negotiators agree to prohibit F-35 delivery to Turkey

A US soldier guards a US F35 stealth aircraft at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX) in Seongnam, south of Seoul, on October 16, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ed JONES

The US Senate and House of Representatives have come together on a $716 billion defense spending report that would prohibit the transfer of F-35 jets to Turkey, among other measures, the Breaking Defense website reported.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Report was hashed out in a joint House/Senate conference committee over the past three weeks, with the goal of having the House vote on it this week, with the Senate to follow in August, Hill aides said Monday.

The  language on Turkey will likely anger Ankara, which plans to buy the Russian-made S-400 air defense system despite loud objections from fellow NATO members who say that the system will compromise the alliance’s security. The purchase from Russia is also putting Turkish participation in the F-35 program in jeopardy, as Congress is ready to stop all deliveries of the plane to Turkey.

“We’re trying to make a point that is broader than just the F-35,” said one aide, adding that the report is “taking a look at all of the major FMS sales pending with Turkey, and requires an assessment of the overall US strategic relation with Turkey.”

Although the Pentagon almost always respects language in the NDAA report, it does have not the force of law, as does the National Defense Authorization Act.

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