August 23, 2018

Van Hollen Language to Halt the Transfer of F-35s to Turkey Until Secretary of Defense Certifies Turkey Will Not Acquire Russian S-400 Missile Defense System Passes Senate

Today the U.S. Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Act, including Senator Van Hollen’s provision to expressly prohibit spending Department of Defense funds to transfer, or to facilitate the transfer of, F-35 aircraft to Turkey until the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, certifies to the appropriate Congressional committees that Turkey is not purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia and will not accept the delivery of such system.


The Senator’s provision covers not only the F-35, but any defense articles or related services – that includes the training of pilots in Turkey, the transfer of F-35 equipment to Turkey, and the Defense Department personnel responsible for fueling the aircraft. Senior defense officials have said that if Turkey operates both the F-35 and the S-400, it could compromise the F-35’s security, including the aircraft’s stealth capabilities, and represent a strategic threat to the United States and our allies.


“As a NATO ally, we want Turkey to have access to the F-35 advanced aircraft. But providing Turkey with the F-35 as they ramp up their efforts to acquire the Russian S-400 missile defense system is unacceptable. This bill sends that message loud and clear, and it is even more important as Turkey and Russia accelerate their timetable for acquiring the S-400. We will not allow Turkey to put the national security of the United States and our allies at risk,” Senator Van Hollen said.


Senator Van Hollen secured similar language in the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act that would apply the same prohibition on State Department funding. He raised the issue directly with Secretary Pompeo in June, who said that the Administration has spoken at length with the Turkish government about the issue but refused to commit to withholding the F-35 if Turkey acquires the S-400.