Senate attempts to block Turkey from getting F-35 stealth jet

US senators have launched a new effort to block the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey, a move that comes just minutes after Turkey was scheduled to receive its first jets as part of an official ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, the CNN reports.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has added an amendment to the Senate’s appropriation bill for the State Department and foreign operations that would prohibit the use of State Department, foreign operations, and related program funds from being used “to transfer, or to facilitate the transfer of, F-35 aircraft to Turkey,” unless the secretary of state certifies that Turkey will not purchase the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.

Although Turkey has long been a participant in the development of the F-35 program, senators have sought to block Turkey from receiving the stealth warplanes amid a deterioration of the US-Turkey relationship and concerns over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian-made anti-aircraft system.

Their efforts have drawn criticism from Turkey and resistance from the Pentagon, but a US defense official told CNN that the concern is that the Russian-made S-400, particularly if it’s plugged into Turkey’s integrated air defense system, could gather technical data on the F-35’s capabilities and that critical information could be passed to Moscow either intentionally or unintentionally through a back door in the Russian designed system.
“The concern is that the F-35 is the most advanced aircraft, the most advanced NATO aircraft, and if Turkey goes forward with the acquisition of the S-400, it will allow the Russians to collect information on how to best attack an F-35 fighter,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat and one of the amendment’s co-sponsors, told CNN.
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