US President Donald Trump on Thursday hinted that he may sever an agreement with Turkey for the F-35 program and move production for all components of the fighter jet to the United States.
“The problem is if we have a problem with a country, you can’t make the jet. We get parts from all over the place. It’s so crazy. We should make everything in the United States,” Trump told Fox News on Thursday, saying that if US relation with Turkey were to collapse, Turkey could withhold delivery of key parts.
Asked whether transferring production to the US in full would be possible, Trump said: “Yeah, we’re doing it because I’m changing all those policies.”
The US president also confirmed that Turkey continues to produce key components of the jet even though its participation in the program was to be “wound down” by March after the US last year objected to Ankara’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system.
“We make F-35s – very important, the greatest jet in the world – where the main body of the jet is made in Turkey and then it’s sent here,” Trump said.
Turkey’s Defense Industry Director Ismail Demir told Reuters last week that Turkey is still producing and delivering parts for US F-35 jets despite being suspended from the program in 2019.
“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 is no longer there,” Demir told Reuters. “Our companies continue their production and delivery.”