Turkish manufacturers will continue producing some parts for the F-35 fighter jets throughout 2020, even though the United States had planned to fully move production away from Turkey by March, Defense One reported.
The United States suspended Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme in July over its purchase of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia, which U.S. and NATO officials consider a potential threat to the alliance’s security.
U.S. defence leaders had hoped to find U.S. suppliers to take over from the Turkish companies by March, but the Pentagon will allow F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin to honour its contracts with the Turkish firms until they run out at the end of the year, Defense One said.
“The majority of our supply chain will be out of Turkey by March 2020,” Ellen Lord, the defence undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, said at a meeting with U.S. defence writers on Tuesday.
Lord said a handful of systems would continue to be produced by Turkish companies and that the Pentagon was managing the transition away from Turkey to minimise the impact on production.
The Turkish parts in question are key components of the new-generation stealth fighters, including the fuselage and landing gear, and are already paid for, an industry source told Defense One.