Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported that Turkey has officially received its first F-35 during a ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s HQ. The new jet will soon be transferred to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where Turkish pilots and maintenance teams will reportedly be undertaking a lengthy training program.
Turkey plans to acquire 100 F-35 jets, with the first planes to be delivered to Turkey in 2020. Turkey is among the countries that contributed to the development and production of the new fifth generation stealth fighter jet.
Their shipment has long been in question due to opposition in Congress, where lawmakers are concerned by the fact that Turkey has signed a deal to buy Russian S-400 air defense systems. They believe that Russia could use the S-400s to reveal secret details and weaknesses of the F-35s.
Congress has passed a bill that requires the Pentagon to present a report on whether the jet will be compromised due to Turkey’s use of S-400s, before it can transfer the F-35s to Turkey. Ankara has slammed Washington’s demands to abandon its S-400 purchase as “blackmail” and urged it to fulfil its obligations, as Turkey has fulfilled its end of the deal.