The White House on Wednesday officially announced Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program, with Pentagon officials adding the department will spend $500 to $600 million to find alternative sources for Turkish-made parts.
Turkey will no longer receive over 100 of the F-35 fighter jets it had planned to purchase, as the U.S. aims to unwind Ankara’s involvement in the program by March 2020 following its acceptance of the Russian-built S-400 air defense system last Friday.
“Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” the White House said in a statement. “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”
U.S. officials have pressed Turkey to reject the S-400 over concerns the Russian system could allow Moscow to gain access to sensitive information on the F-35 program.
Ellen Lord, the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters on Thursday that Turkey, which makes over 900 parts for the F-35, will no longer receive $9 billion in projected workshare over the life of the program, including $1 billion in current industrial participation commitments.
“We have been working in earnest to develop and implement changes to our supply base and supply chain to accommodate the potential for Turkish removal from the program,” Lord said. “To bridge the gap initially to mitigate Turkey’s removal, the program will use primarily U.S. sources for Turkey’s workshare. But this will gradually open up to program partners for first, second and third sources.”
Lord said the Pentagon expects “minimal impact” to the F-35 program as a result of Turkey’s removal from the supply chain.
“We have worked extremely closely with both Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney, because they both have part of the supply chain in Turkey, and they are in lockstep with us and they’re just as involved as we are,” Lord said.
Lockheed Martin [LMT] said Thursday it has worked with the Pentagon to assist in the supply chain transition away from Turkish parts and is set to meet delivery of 131 F-35s in 2019.
“Over the last several months we’ve been working to establish alternative sources of supply in the United States to quickly accommodate Turkey’s current contributions to the program. These actions will limit any future production or sustainment impact and we remain on track to meet our commitment of delivering 131 F-35s this year,” the company said in a statement.
Pentagon officials did not confirm whether the decision to remove Turkey is reversible if Ankara decides to forgo for S-400 in the future, or potentially reverse course and purchase the Patriot defense system.
Lord said the department is also currently working through who may receive the F-35s that were previously designated to go to Turkey.
“We are discussing the specifics of the aircraft they have purchased so far, as we speak,” Lord said.