US Congressman ‘Pleased’ to See Lawmakers Block F-35 Transfers to Turkey

Congressman Gus Bilirakis (file photo)

A Greek-American Congressman has welcomed the U.S. Senate’s decision to block the sale of advanced warplanes to Turkey.

Gus Bilirakis, a Florida Republican, told Greek Reporter on Wednesday he was “pleased to see the Senate take our work here in the House a step further by removing Turkey from the F-35 program and blocking the planned F-35 transfer”.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate passed a defense policy bill that included a bipartisan amendment prohibiting the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.

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

However, 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.

Bilirakis said the U.S. “should never tolerate any foreign power – adversary or ally – from using violence against innocent civilians (especially our citizens on our soil), challenging the sovereignty of our allies and violating international law, or using our citizens for political leverage”.

He was referring to a series of issues and incidents which have soured the relationship between Washington and Ankara — two ostensible NATO allies.

In May 2017, Turkish security agents, along with Turkish-American citizens attacked a group of people in Washington, primarily Kurdish Americans, protesting against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during an official visit to the U.S. by the Turkish leader.

U.S. lawmakers are also angry over the detention and trial in Turkey of an American pastor, Andrew Brunson, on terror charges stemming from the 2016 coup attempt.

Tensions in the Aegean between Turkey and Greece have also been a source of conflict in the NATO alliance.

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.