Turkey is delaying the purchase of its first two F-35 strike fighters, citing concerns over the aircraft’s development and recent cost hikes, according to press reports. “The operational capabilities of the F-35 aircraft have lagged behind desired levels, and given the increasing drift of costs to supply aircraft in future years, Turkey is re-evaluating its plans,” stated Turkey’s defense procurement agency, reported UPI on Jan. 14. The US government, Lockheed Martin, and Turkey were close to signing a deal last year for the company to deliver the first two Turkish F-35s in 2015. Turkey is an original F-35 development partner and ostensibly plans to operate 100 airframes.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.