WASHINGTON (Reuters) – If Turkey were removed from the F-35 jet supply chain amid a dispute with the United States over its planned purchase of a Russian missile system, it would impact the production rate for up to 75 of the fighters, a Pentagon official said on Thursday.
The United States has halted delivery of equipment related to the stealthy fighter aircraft to Turkey. It was the first concrete American step to block delivery of the jet to the NATO ally in light of the planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system.
“The evaluation of Turkey stopping would be between 50- and 75-airplane impact over a two-year period,” the head of the F-35 programme, Navy Vice Admiral Mathias Winter, told a U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee subcommittee.
Turkey produces between 6 percent and 7 percent of the parts for the F-35, Winter said.
Winter’s comment came as Washington explored whether it could remove Turkey from production of the F-35. Turkey makes parts of the fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays. Sources familiar with the F-35’s intricate worldwide production process and U.S. thinking on the issue last week said Turkey’s role can be replaced.
“We would see within 45 to 90 days an impact of the slowing down or stopping of those parts to the three production lines.”
The F-35 has production lines in Italy, Texas and Japan.
“Right now there has been no disruption” of the supply chain Winter said.
The programme intends to deliver 131 jets this year, Winter said.
(Reporting by Mike Stone; editing by Jonathan Oatis)