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Ankara does not extend lobbying contract with US law firm for F-35 jet program

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Turkey did not extend a contract with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, one of Washington’s most prestigious law firms, to lobby for its participation in the F-35 fighter jet program after the agreement expired on Aug. 16, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Tuesday, citing the law firm.

In February 2021 Turkey’s state-owned Defense Industry Technologies (SSTEK), wholly owned by the Presidency of the Defense Industry (SSB) — the government office that manages Turkey’s defense industry — signed a six-month lobbying contract worth $750,000 with the Washington-based firm in an attempt to remain in the F-35 stealth jet fighter program.

Ankara signed another contract with Arnold & Porter, which was hired to provide “strategic counsel and legal consultancy services” to the government, in September 2021

Washington imposed sanctions in December 2020 on Turkey’s military procurement agency as punishment for its purchase of a Russian missile defense system under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which mandates penalties for transactions deemed harmful to US interests.

In April 2021 the US officially removed Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter development and training program due to its procurement of the S-400, a mobile surface-to-air missile system.

Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and NATO’s broader defense systems. Turkey rejects this and says the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.

Turkey’s defense industry director İsmail Demir said in May 2021 that a dialogue would be initiated between Ankara and Washington to find a solution to problems that arose over Turkey’s exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet program.

Observers see Ankara’s latest move as a sign that hopes for Turkey’s readmission to the program have been lost.

Turkey turned its focus to buying F-16s to upgrade its aging fleet of American warplanes after it was removed from the program to help manufacture and buy the next-generation F-35 fighter.

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