The Turkish Defense Industry has hired a former Lockheed Martin executive as it ramps up its campaign to rejoin the F-35 fighter jet program, Foreign Lobby reported.
Stephen Williams, the stealth jet manufacturer’s former regional president for continental Europe, has registered his Alexandria-based firm Pentagon Strategies under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). He told the Department of Justice that the firm is working for Ankara-based SSTEK Savunma Sanayi Teknolojiler (Defense Industry Technologies) and the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), the government office that manages Turkey’s defense industry. A contract spelling out the terms of Williams’ engagement should be uploaded to the FARA website shortly.
Williams is well-known within the F-35 community, having left Lockheed Martin in the summer of 2016 to become CEO of the North American subsidiary of Danish defense and aerospace company Terma, which says it makes “more than 70 mission-critical parts for the F-35” including advanced lightweight composite components and radar electronics. Williams founded Pentagon Strategies in Virginia in March 2020.
His registration comes just a little over a month after SSTEK hired Washington law firm Arnold & Porter to “advise on a strategy for the SSB and Turkish contractors to remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program." Arnold & Porter is to be paid $750,000 for six months to provide “strategic advice and outreach to US commercial partners and stakeholders in the program.”
The Donald Trump administration announced in July 2019 that it had removed Turkey from the multi-nation F-35 program over the country’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems. The Pentagon has since clarified that it will continue to depend on Turkish defense contractors for key components through next year.
Turkish defense officials told the Turkish military news site www.turdef.com that the purpose of Arnold & Porter’s engagement was to ensure that Turkey’s rights are protected after it paid for the delivery of four F-35 aircraft that remain in the U.S.