President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a defense budget law that delays delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
Back in July, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters: “We have made a $900 million payment so far [for the sale of the F-35 jets]. And the delivery of two of them was made to us there [at Lockheed Martin’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas]. And our pilots are now conducting their training flights [in Luke Air Force Base in Arizona]. We do not have any concerns at this point.”
Erdogan was responding to the $716 billion John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA), which prohibits the sale of F-35s to Turkey for 90 days until the Pentagon produces a report on the risks and consequences of Turkey, a member of NATO, purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defense system.
Erdogan was correct in stating Turkey had already received its first two F-35s, but they remain in the US while their Turkish pilots receive training, and their delivery will not take place for more than a year, even without the imposed delay by Congress.
In July, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote the Senate recommending that it not remove Turkey from the F-35 program in which it has participated since 1999. Mattis argued that blocking Turkey’s access to the most sophisticated stealth aircraft ever would cause a disruption in the US military’s supply chain in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday President Erdogan announced that Turkey will boycott American electronic products, adding that Turkey would produce a better version of every product previously bought with foreign currencies and would even export them.
“They do not hesitate to use the economy as a weapon against us, as they [also] tried in the diplomatic or military field, and efforts to sow social and political instability,” Erdogan added.