New York.- A joint House and Senate Conference Committee maintained restrictions on the sale of F-35s to Turkey in its Conference Report regarding the Department of Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019. According to Bloomberg, “transfers to Turkey of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 would be barred temporarily under a compromise struck by House and Senate negotiators” which “follows closely provisions included in [the] FY’19 defense policy bill which President Trump signed into law.” That defense policy bill restricted the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey until the Pentagon assessed U.S.-Turkish relations and the impact of Turkey’s planned acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense program. Senator Chris Van Hollen led the effort to restrict the F-35 transfers, and he secured the co-sponsorship of Senators Lindsey Graham and James Lankford. President Trump must sign the reconciled bill by October 1st.
Before the conference committee report was released, responding to a call from the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), many Greek Americanas members contacted their representatives who were members of the joint committee and urged the committee to retain the provisions restricting the transfer of F-35s to Turkey.
“Despite intense efforts by Lockheed Martin and its bought-and-paid-for Congresswoman Kay Granger, the entire U.S. government is on to the fact that Turkey is more of a threat to U.S. and Western interests than an ally,” said HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides. “Congress has given Turkey one more chance to back out of the S-400 deal. If Turkey decides to proceed with the ill-advised acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, ever more stringent efforts will be coming out of Congress this fall.”