Sending Office: Honorable Michael R. Turner
May 21, 2018
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is essential to American air dominance and I urge you to resist overtures to disrupt its progress. Recently, some of our colleagues have suggested we prevent the purchase of F-35s by Turkey. While many of President Erdogan’s
recent actions are not compatible with American values, the F-35 is too important a capability to use as a political bargaining chip.
Any cracks in our bilateral relationship with Turkey will echo throughout NATO. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis noted in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, long-term strategic competition with China and Russia are the principle priorities
for the Department. Mattis concludes that Russia will seek to shatter NATO. We must not assist Putin in his efforts; Turkey is an invaluable member of the Treaty. The Turks house over 1,500 American servicemembers at the Incirlik Air Base and are a steadfast
partner in the NATO deterrence mission. We cannot turn our back on such ally at such a pivotal time.
The F-35 is the only 5th generation aircraft currently in production today. As an invaluable tool of the American arsenal, the F-35 is slated to rule the skies for the next several decades. To drive innovation, build partnerships, and keep costs
down, the U.S. has joined with eight foreign partners in the F-35 program. The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Canada have each contributed to the research, design, and production of the aircraft. These
partners are not customers of the F-35 but contributors and shareholders.
As of January 2018, Turkey had contributed over $1 billion to the program. This investment would be required to be returned to the Turkish Government if the United States fails to deliver on the contract. Even more significantly, Turkey manufactures critical
components of the F-35. Removing them from the program will lead to delays and costs overruns to the rest of the partners and allies.
We must acknowledge and take action against the disappointing activities of the Erdogan Government. We should condemn their efforts to quiet political dissent, attacks on our regional allies, and any effort to forge closer military cooperation with Russia.
To address these growing concerns, the House Armed Services Committee included legislation in the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to address the tension in the U.S.-Turkish relationship. This bipartisan provision requires Secretary
Mattis to deliver a report to Congress on the status of the U.S. relationship with Turkey. This report is required 60 days after enactment of the NDAA, well before the first delivery of F-35s to Turkey scheduled for November 2019. The provision will also prohibit
foreign military sales to Turkey until the report is delivered to Congress. We must allow the Secretary to give his assessment of our relationship related to the F-35, S-400, Incirlik Air Base, and the other touchpoints we have with the Turks.
We must not condone Turkey’s recent action but hindering the success of the F-35 program is too harmful to American interests for consideration. I urge you to continue to support the F-35 program; its success is intrinsically tied to the strength of NATO
and our military’s continued preeminence.
Michael R. Turner Marc Veasey
Member of Congress Member of Congress
e-Dear Colleague version 2.0