The saga of U.S. warplanes sales to Turkey has taken another twist with the White House apparently intent on supplying the high-tech fighters despite opposition from Congress.
In a letter to the Senate Appropriation Committee head, Richard Shelby, senior White House figure Mick Mulvaney described Turkey as an “important NATO ally” which had been involved in the F-35 project since 2002.
“The administration shares the Congress’s concerns over recent Turkish actions but opposes language that preemptively restricts its ability to work with Turkey to address those concerns,” Mulvaney added.
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.
In June, the U.S. Senate passed a defense policy bill that includes a bipartisan amendment which prohibits the sale of the F-35 fighter jets to Ankara.
Senators are angry at the ongoing imprisonment of a U.S. pastor, Andrew Brunson, in Smyrna on terror charges stemming from the 2016 coup attempt.
One Greek-American Congressman had welcomed the U.S. Senate’s decision to block the sale of advanced warplanes to Turkey.
Gus Bilirakis, a Florida Republican, told Greek Reporter last month 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”.
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, something which goes against NATO alliance policy of sourcing technology from non-NATO members.