US Senate Passes Bill Blocking Transfer of F-35 Warplanes to Turkey

US Senate (file photo).

The U.S. Senate has passed a defense policy bill that includes a bipartisan amendment which prohibits the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

Turkey wants to buy about 100 of the Lockheed Martin-built jets — worth about $10 billion (€8.6 billion) — which are almost undetectable by radar.

The Senate voted 85-10 for the $716 billion annual National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which authorizes U.S. military spending. It needs to be passed by the House of Representatives also to become law, something which is not expected until later in the summer.

The clause would commit the U.S. Secretary of Defense to keeping Turkey — a NATO member — out of the partnership program for building the jets.

Turkish paper the Hurriyet Daily News reports that according to the NDAA, U.S. President Donald Trump should certify that Turkey does not threaten NATO, purchase defense equipment from Russia or detain U.S. citizens.

The Senators are also angry at the ongoing imprisonment of a U.S. pastor, Andrew Brunson, in Smyrna on terror charges stemming from the 2016 coup attempt.

The U.S. is also concerned over a deal between Ankara and the Kremlin for the purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia.

According to the Senate amendment, the purchase of the S-400 system from Russia increases tensions and risks to the NATO alliance.