Senators Lankford, Shaheen, Tillis, Van Hollen on US Suspending F-35 Parts to Turkey
WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) issued statements following the announcement from the Pentagon to suspend F-35 equipment to Turkey. Last week, the bipartisan group of Senators introduced a bill to prohibit the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey until the government certifies that Turkey will not accept delivery of Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
“Four days ago, Senators Shaheen, Tillis, Van Hollen, and I joined together in a bipartisan manner to introduce a bill to prevent Turkey from acquiring the most advanced military aircraft in the world, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, while it seeks to purchase a Russian air defense system, the S-400, created to destroy NATO fighter jets,” said Lankford. “It is welcome news that the Pentagon has announced it will suspend deliveries and activities associated with standing up the F-35 in Turkey. I applaud the Administration’s decision to hold Turkey accountable for its concerning shift away from NATO, and I hope the combined actions of our Legislative and Executive Branches of government deter Turkey from its pursuit of the S-400 and instead bring our friend back toward a closer working relationship with the US and NATO alliance.”
“I’m glad the Administration is heeding the bipartisan call in Congress to delay the transfer of F-35 equipment to Turkey to help ensure US military technology and capabilities cannot fall into the hands of the Kremlin. Though Turkey is an important US ally, their close relationship with Putin and persistent efforts to acquire the Russian S-400 air defense system could seriously compromise our national security,” said Shaheen. “This is an important step forward, but doesn’t go far enough – I’ll continue to call on the Administration to prevent the delivery of the F-35 aircraft until Turkey abandons its plans to obtain the Russian defense system. Senate Republican leadership should allow a vote on my bipartisan bill with Senators Lankford, Tillis and Van Hollen that would do just this and give the Administration the tools it needs to safeguard our national security.”
“Turkey’s decision to purchase the S-400 air defense system from NATO’s adversary Russia is alarming and could have severe national security implications for the United States,” said Tillis. “I applaud the Pentagon’s decision to suspend Turkey’s F-35 capabilities, and I’ll continue to work my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to ensure our NATO allies, including Turkey, are meeting their obligations.”
“I’m pleased to see that the Pentagon is heeding our calls to stop the transfer of F-35 related equipment to Turkey,” said Van Hollen. “Turkey operating both the S-400 missile and the F-35 is a non-starter. It puts our national security at risk and undermines our NATO allies. I will continue working in the Senate to prevent this dangerous possibility from becoming a reality.”
Last year, Lankford, Shaheen, and Tillis introduced a similar bill to stop the transfer of fighter aircraft to Turkey. The Turkish government committed a number of human rights violations, including the unjust imprisonment of American pastor, Andrew Brunson. Pastor Brunson was released in October 2018 after being detained for two years. A version of the bill was included as an amendment in the FY19 National Defense Authorization Act, directing the Secretary of Defense to submit a plan to Congress to remove Turkey from participation in the F-35 program.