Turkey’s ejection from F-35 programme to benefit Israeli companies - Haaretz

Israel won’t be too disappointed if Washington halts the supply of F-35 stealth fighter jets to Turkey as the annulment of the deals with Turkish defence companies could create a vacuum ripe for Israeli companies, Haaretz said on Wednesday.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan has told Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar last week in a letter that Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program will end as of July 31 unless Turkey withdraws from its planned purchase of Russian S-400 defence systems.

In April, the United States froze a joint F-35 manufacturing program with Turkey, which produces 6-7 percent of the parts for the fighter jets, over Ankara’s decision to purchase the Russian systems. Turkey is interested in buying 100 of the fighter jets, reportedly worth around $9 billion according to current prices.

Israel has not commented publicly on the crisis between Washington and Ankara, but one could cautiously argue that Israel won’t be too disappointed if the Americans halt the delivery of F-35s to Turkey, Hareetz said.

Under an agreement between Israel and Turkey, a maintenance centre for F-35 engines was to be established in Turkey, to be used by air forces from the region, according to Haaretz.

If the large number of contract Turkish companies signed to serve as subcontractors in the project, it would create a vacuum ripe to enter for Israeli companies, like Israel Aerospace Industries who is already the subcontractor manufacturer of the stealth fighter’s wings, Hareetz said.

“Feelers have been sent out between the Pentagon and Israel’s Defense Ministry about the possibility of putting together a package of proposals for new deals with Israeli military companies,” the Israeli newspaper said.

Turkish officials have repeatedly said that Turkey would not back down from the deal with Moscow for acquiring S-400 missile systems. Ankara has also not responded yet to the letter sent by Shanahan, but Akar on Wednesday said that the letter contradicted the spirit of the NATO alliance, adding that Turkey had been preparing an answer accordingly.