U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen announced on Thursday that he successfully secured language as part of the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act that would expressly prohibit spending funds from Fiscal Year 2019 – as well as prior fiscal years – to transfer, or facilitate the transfer, of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey until the Secretary of State certifies that Turkey isn’t purchasing and won’t accept deliveries of the Russian S-400 missile defense system. The amendment, which passed with strong bipartisan support in Committee, was sponsored by Chairman of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.).
Senior defense officials have said that if Turkey operates both the F-35 and the S-400, it could compromise the F-35’s security, including the aircraft’s stealth capabilities, and represent a strategic threat to the United States. It would also compromise the security of our allies and stand in clear violation of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act. This new legislative language goes a step further than the National Defense Authorization Act that the Senate passed this week, which restricts funding on the transfer of F-35 aircrafts to Turkey until the Secretary of Defense issues a report on removing Turkey from the F-35 program.
“I support the transfer of F-35 advanced aircraft to Turkey, but not if they proceed with the acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile defense system – this move would jeopardize the national security of the United States and our other allies. Turkey’s acquisition of both systems would allow the Russians to more easily evaluate the capabilities of the F-35 and detect and exploit its vulnerabilities. That is unacceptable. This provision makes it clear that if Turkey ignores the concerns of its NATO allies and moves forward with this partnership with Putin, it will no longer receive F-35s,” said Senator Van Hollen.
The text of the F-35 amendment is below:
On page 232, line 1 of the bill insert the following after the period:
(d) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act and prior Acts making appropriations for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs, may be made available to transfer, or to facilitate the transfer of, F–35 aircraft to Turkey, including any defense articles or services related to such aircraft, until the Secretary of State certifies to the appropriate congressional committees that the Government of Turkey is not purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia and will not accept the delivery of such system.
Insert the following under the heading “Turkey” in section 7046 of the report:
Not later than 30 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees that includes: (1) a determination whether the Government of Turkey has made payments to Russia for the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system; (2) the number of such systems the Government of Turkey expects to purchase; (3) the anticipated delivery schedule for such system; (4) the dollar value of such systems the Government of Turkey is expected to purchase, and an analysis of the financing for the purchase (including self-financing or financing by loans from Russia or other sources); (5) a description of the measures the Secretary has taken to dissuade the Government of Turkey from purchasing such system, and a description of measures taken to encourage the purchase of an alternative system; and (6) an assessment of how the operation of the S-400 missile defense system and F–35 aircraft together would impact the security of the F–35 aircraft. The report required under this subsection shall be submitted in unclassified form but may contain a classified annex, as necessary.