US Senators push Esper on delay to remove Turkey from F-35 supply chain

US Senators push Esper on delay to remove Turkey from F-35 supply chain

US Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) have sent a bipartisan letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on the Department of Defense timeline to remove Turkey from the supply chain of the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter.

“As you know, we have worked together in the Senate on issues of US-Turkey relations for several years and remain concerned about the direction Turkey is taking under the leadership of President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” the letter said.

“From human rights violations in Syria to arbitrary arrests of Americans in Ankara to defense cooperation with Russia, Turkey is not behaving like a responsible actor or working collaboratively with the West at the level we expect from a NATO ally,” it said.

The Senators continued: “The legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President [Donald] Trump sent a clear diplomatic message to Turkey about the consequences of moving forward with Russian defense systems and technology. Unfortunately, that strong message is being undermined by the Department’s repeated delays in removing Turkey from the supply chain. By keeping Turkish manufacturers in the supply chain two years after the initial statute took effect and well beyond the Pentagon’s self-imposed deadline, the Department is impeding our nation’s diplomatic and geopolitical efforts to pressure Turkey to reverse course.”

Turkey tests S-400

Reports Tuesday said Turkey tested the S-400 air defense systems purchased from Russia against US-developed F-16 aircraft.

According to the same reports, the S-400s deployed at the Murted air base near the Turkish capital were tested on the F-16 Viper and F-4 Phantom II fighters.

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