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Shaheen, Lankford Push DOD Head on Delay to Remove Turkey from F-35 Technology Supply Chain

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, sent a letter with Senator James Lankford (R-OK) yesterday to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on the Department of Defense’s timeline to remove Turkey from the supply chain of the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter. Shaheen and Lankford were the first in Congress to introduce legislation, which was eventually included in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to place limitations on the transfer of the F-35 technology to Turkey. Unfortunately, despite the Department of Defense’s clear intent to initially implement the law and work to find new suppliers, Turkey’s removal has now been long-delayed. Lankford and Shaheen were joined by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in sending the letter.

In the letter, the Senators wrote, “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 Erdogan. 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.”

The Senators continued, “The legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by President 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.”

The full text of the letter is available here.