Turkey Will Make F‑35 Parts Longer Than Anticipated

 In GDI, Russia, Defense, Air, Turkey

U.S. offi­cials had aimed to get Turkish com­pa­nies out of the jet’s supply chain by March.

Turkey will con­tin­ue making parts for the F‑35 through 2020, at least a year and a half after the coun­try was eject­ed from the Joint Strike Fighter pro­gram, the Pentagon’s top buyer said. 

Defense lead­ers had hoped to find U.S. sources for all Turkish-made com­po­nents by March, but have decid­ed to allow prime con­trac­tor Lockheed Martin and engine-maker Pratt & Whitney to honor con­trac­tu­al oblig­a­tions that will keep some parts arriv­ing until year’s end.

“The major­i­ty of our supply chain will be out of Turkey by March 2020,” Ellen Lord, the defense under­sec­re­tary for acqui­si­tion and sus­tain­ment, said Tuesday at a Defense Writers Group break­fast. 

But Lockheed Martin and Pratt “have con­tracts in place that will per­haps carry out to the end of the year” that affect “a hand­ful of sys­tems,” she said. “We con­tin­ue to manage the pro­gram to min­i­mize impact to pro­duc­tion.” 

Related: US Could Use Turkish F‑35 Parts Contracts to Entice New Customers

Related: Extra-Long Sustainment Contracts Are Lockheed’s Latest Bid to Cut F‑35 Costs

Related: At Long Last, the F‑35 and F‑22 Might Talk to Each Other

The Turkish parts are for six key com­po­nents of the plane, includ­ing the jet’s fuse­lage and land­ing gear, an indus­try source said. 

The parts are already paid for, the source said.

Ten Turkish com­pa­nies built more than 900 F‑35 parts before U.S. offi­cials removed NATO ally Turkey from the project because Ankara bought S‑400 sur­face-to-air mis­siles from Russia. Removing Turkey from the F‑35 supply chain is expect­ed to cost between $500 mil­lion and $600 mil­lion.

Four Turkish-owned F‑35s are being stored at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The planes were being used for pilot train­ing. Washington and Ankara must nego­ti­ate what will happen to those planes since Turkey owns them. There have been no dis­cus­sions between Pentagon and Turkish offi­cials about what hap­pens to those air­craft, Lord said.

The U.S. Air Force is expect­ed to receive 24 other jets — which are in var­i­ous stages of pro­duc­tion — that were being built for Turkey.

Lockheed built 134 F‑35s last year, up from 91 in 2018 and 66 in 2017. The com­pa­ny is expect­ed to build 141 jets this year and up to 160 per year by 2023.

Source: Defense One

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