Turkey hires US lobbying firm to remain in F-35 fighter jet program

Turkey has hired a U.S. lobbying firm in an attempt to remain in the F-35 jet fighter program following Ankara's exclusion from the program over its purchase of Russian S-400 air defense system, Euronews Turkish service reported on Feb. 18. Ankara-based SSTEK Savunma Sanayi Teknolojiler (Defense Industry Technologies) has hired Arnold & Porter for $750,000 for a duration of six months.

Duvar English

Turkey has hired one of Washington’s most prestigious law firms Arnold & Porter for $750,000 for strategic advice and outreach to U.S. stakeholders in the F-35 jet fighter program, Euronews Turkish service reported on Feb. 18.

The contract made between Ankara-based SSTEK Savunma Sanayi Teknolojiler (Defense Industry Technologies) and Arnold & Porter was effective Feb. 1 and lasts six months.

SSTEK is owned by the Turkish Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB).

Arnold & Porter will reportedly “advise on a strategy for the SSB and Turkish contractors to remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program, taking into consideration and addressing the complex geopolitical and commercial factors at play.”

Earlier in February, Pentagon said that the Joe Biden administration will not lift the Donald Trump administration’s ban on Turkey buying F-35 jet fighters, a punishment for Ankara’s 2019 purchase of Russian S-400 air-defense system.

“Our position has not changed. The S-400 is incompatible with the F-35 and Turkey has been suspended from that program. We urge Turkey not to retain the S-400 system,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said during a press briefing on Feb. 5.

Turkey was both a parts manufacturer and a major buyer of the Lockheed Martin F-35s. However, its acquisition of the advanced S-400 Russian air defense system prompted Washington to remove Ankara from the F-35 program in 2019.

U.S. authorities later announced that they would allow prime contractor Lockheed Martin to honor existing contractual obligations with Turkish manufacturers for the components of F-35 fighter jets.

Accordingly, Turkish companies are expected to continue manufacturing and supplying F-35 parts to Lockheed through 2022.