This week, Congressmen Mike Turner (OH-10), John Garamendi (CA-3), and Paul Cook (CA-8) introduced the “Protecting NATO Skies Act of 2019,” designed to limit the transfer of F-35 aircraft to the nation of Turkey. The bill is a companion bill to S.922, the Protecting NATO Skies Act of 2019, introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).
“Turkey is our friend and partner,” said Turner. “However, Turkey is choosing to jeopardize its F-35 partner status for dealings with the Russian Federation. It is imperative that we prevent our superior F-35 capabilities from falling into the wrong hands. I strongly urge Turkey to reconsider its purchase of the Russian S-400.”
“Turkey is an important NATO ally and key supplier in the multinational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and I have very serious concerns about Turkey’s intention to acquire and operate the Russian S-400 air defense system,” said Garamendi. “Operating the S-400 alongside the F-35 would compromise the aircraft and its sensitive technology, impact interoperability among NATO allies, and most importantly pose serious risk to our shared defense and security. This bill sends a strong and important message to Turkey — proceeding with the S-400 is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
In a March 26, 2019 Armed Services Committee hearing, Turner questioned Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan about Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 program, to which Shanahan testified “we need Turkey to buy the Patriot.” The Acting Secretary has indicated Turkey will not be able to buy the F-35 if Turkey proceeds with a deal to acquire Russian air defense systems.
The F-35 JSF program contributes to our national economy by supporting more than 1,400 suppliers and more than 220,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country. This adds up to more than a $44.2 billion annual economic impact across 45 states and Puerto Rico.
Turner serves as a senior member of the House Armed Services and Intelligence Committees. He has previously served as President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and currently serves as Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.