The chief of the Presidency of the Defense Industry (SSB) has said Turkey is still producing and delivering parts for US F-35 jets despite being suspended from the program nearly a year ago, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
“There was an understanding in the United States that nothing would be bought from Turkey for the F-35s after March 2020, but that approach has changed,” İsmail Demir told reporters at an online meeting.
“Our companies are continuing their production and delivery,” Demir said, adding that Turkey remained a “loyal partner” in the F-35 program.
Taking Turkey out of the project would cost other members of the program up to $600 million, he said.
Washington announced last July, when the first Russian S-400 units arrived in Turkey, that it was suspending Ankara from the F-35 program and expected to “wind down” Turkey’s involvement by March 2020.
Demir suggested the global coronavirus pandemic meant the March deadline no longer applied.
The United States also said the purchase meant Turkey could be subjected to sanctions under US legislation aimed at discouraging defense purchases from Moscow.
Turkey was both a parts manufacturer and major buyer of the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth jets. Washington says the S-400s jeopardize the jets — which Ankara denies — and are incompatible with NATO defense systems.