Honeywell [HON], which makes brake components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in South Bend, Ind., plans to move that work to Turkey this summer, drawing criticism from the state’s senior U.S. senator.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) said on the Senate floor late June 13 that if U.S.-Turkish relations continue to deteriorate, he is concerned the United States could lose access to those parts.
“While Turkey is a member of NATO, it is on a concerning path of crumbling democratic norms, and it’s in the process of purchasing” the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system from Russia, Donnelly said. “That’s not the kind of place where we should be manufacturing critical components for one of the most advanced warfighting machines in our arsenal, particularly when we have trained, experienced, talented, patriotic, devoted American workers in South Bend, Indiana, who want to continue doing this work.”
Donnelly, who spoke during Senate deliberations on the fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill, said the Honeywell situation underscores the need for a provision that would require the Department of Defense to examine Turkey’s role in the F-35 supply chain to ensure key manufacturing capabilities are not sent there. He pushed for the provision when the Senate Armed Services Committee was drafting the bill.
“We don't currently know what future threats to our supply chain will emerge,” Donnelly said. “This Congress and the American people should know the answers to those questions.”
Donnelly is also proposing an amendment that would require federal contracting policy to take into consideration whether companies have outsourced American jobs to foreign countries.
In a statement, Honeywell defended the upcoming move, saying it “better aligns our resources, potentially generates additional sales and helps serve the needs of our regional customers” in Asia and Europe.
The Senate bill contains several other provisions spurred by worsening U.S.-Turkish relations. They include language by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that would block F-35 transfers to Turkey and ultimately end that country's participation in the U.S.-led fighter jet program (Defense Daily, May 25).
Turkey has been slated to buy 100 conventional-takeoff-and-landing F-35As and host a maintenance depot.
The Senate is expected to finish consideration of the defense bill as early as Monday. The legislation will then go to a conference with the House, which passed its version in May (Defense Daily, May 10).