LONDON --- Turkey has hinted it may try to leave NATO – which could cause difficulties for the Lockheed Martin F-35 programme because the country has signed up to buy 100 of the advanced jet fighters.
Speaking to state news agency Anadolu, Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, hit out at both NATO and the EU over their lack of perceived support for the country following July's supposed coup d'etat against President Recip Tayyip Erdogan.
Reuters summarised Casuvoglu's remarks as, “Turkey may seek other options outside NATO for defence industry co-operation, although its first option is always cooperation with its NATO allies.”
President Erdogan met Russian president Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, prompting concern amongst Western leaders.
Meanwhile a NATO spokesman sought to smooth over the Turkish statement, saying: “Turkey is a valued Ally, making substantial contributions to NATO's joint efforts. Turkey takes full part in the Alliance’s consensus-based decisions as we confront the biggest security challenges in a generation. Turkey’s NATO membership is not in question.”
The alliance has even moved an installation by a Turkish artist opposite its new HQ, in a bid to keep Ankara sweet:
However, Turkey's obvious shift away from the West raises a thorny problem: if it deepens its ties with Russia and other powers traditionally not aligned with the West, what would – or should – happen to its planned buy of 100 state-of-the-art F-35 fighters?
Tech transfer? Not so much
Turkey's involvement in the F-35 is already fairly deep. Around 10 Turkish companies are building various components for the aircraft, in support of the country's intention to buy conventional F-35As. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on The Register website.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Turkey has also been selected for F-35 engine maintenance, the Joint Program Office announced in December 2014: “Engine heavy maintenance will initially be provided by Turkey by 2018, with Norway and the Netherlands providing additional capability two to three years after Turkey’s initial capability."
It is thus also clear that any problem or interference with these plans would substantially disrupt F-35 support plans for Europe.)