September 14, 2018

Van Hollen: Turkey F-35 Provision in DoD Appropriations Falls Short

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen issued the following statement on the provision in Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations bill regarding the transfer of the F-35 aircraft to Turkey, as Russia expedites the delivery of the S-400 Russian missile defense system to Turkey by mid-2019. Senator Van Hollen authored stronger language in the Senate-passed bill that would have fully barred any federal spending to transfer, or to facilitate the transfer of, F-35 aircraft to Turkey until the Secretary of Defense certifies that Turkey is not purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia and will not accept the delivery of such system.
“The language in the bill falls short of what is needed to prevent our national security from being compromised. The Senate provision established a clear, bright line to protect our security by prohibiting Turkey from obtaining the F-35 advanced aircraft if they proceed with their current plan to purchase the S-400 Russian missile defense system. The final bill replaces that bright line with fuzzy language that fails to send a strong message that such a combination would pose an unacceptable threat.
“While President Trump has taken action to attempt to gain the release of Americans unjustly imprisoned by the Turkish government, he has not told President Erdogan that Turkey’s purchase of Russian defense systems will undermine NATO’s security. That is why Congress must not equivocate on this issue. Unfortunately, when given the chance to deliver President Erdogan a strong message, the Congress blinked.” 

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 would represent a strategic threat to the United States. Senator Van Hollen successfully secured language on this issue in both the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense Appropriations Act
and the Fiscal Year 2019 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.