Congressional block of F-35 sale to Turkey could lead to long delays in F-35 deliveries and serious issues for Lockheed Martin.
In August, Congress passed a bill that could potentially block the sale of 100 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets to Turkey. The reassessment of the relationship with Turkey was caused by an agreement between Turkey and Russia for the purchase of S-400 Triumf missile air defense systems.
Turkey is a global leader in aerospace manufacturing, and 10 Turkish companies will make about $12 billion worth of parts for the F-35, including key components such as the center fuselage and some landing gear. For certain items, like the cockpit display, Turkey is the only source in the world.
Together with Northrop Grumman, Turkish Aerospace Industries manufactures and assembles the center fuselage, weapons bay doors, and air-to-ground pylons used to carry equipment.
Ayesas is the sole supplier for two major F-35 components—the missile remote interface unit and the panoramic cockpit display.
Kale Aerospace manufactures airframe structures and landing gear uplock assemblies.
Fokker Elmo makes 40 percent of the electrical wiring interconnection system (EWIS) for the F135 engine.
Alp Aviation manufactures airframe structures and assemblies, landing gear components, and more than 100 engine parts for the F135, including titanium integrated blade rotors.
According to Bloomberg if the block of the F-35 sale happens, Ankara could stop supplying crucial parts for the F-35. “If the Turkish supply chain was disrupted today, it would result in an aircraft production break, delaying delivery of 50-75 jets and would take approximately 18-24 months to re-source parts,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis wrote in July in a letter to Congress.
Jim Mattis is supposed to present the report on the reassessment of the US-Turkey relationship, which needs to review Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program and the risks posed by the country’s purchase of the Russian S-400 Triumf air missile defense system.
Erdogan commented that he is not worried regarding the F-35 sale and has not mentioned a response.
Relations between the US and Turkey have quickly been deteriorating in recent months, after the Trump administration imposed tariffs on the import of Turkish steel and aluminum, as well as sanctioned two ministers in the Turkish government. This led to a sharp loss of value of the Turkish lira and a retaliation by Turkey which saw tariffs on many US products including electronics and cars. This was sparked in part by the agreement for the purchase of the Russian S-400 Triumf air missile defense systems, but also due to the detainment of Andrew Brunson, an American pastor charged with assisting the failed 2016 coup in Turkey.
On October 4th, the US imposed sanctions against a Turkish company and two of its officers for allegedly doing business with North Korea. The Treasury Department accused S.I.A. Falcon International Group of being involved in trading weapons and luxury goods with North Korea, defying sanctions imposed by both the United States and the United Nations. This can be seen as a warning to North Korea, but also as another deterioration in the relationship between the US and Turkey.