The withdrawal of Turkey from the supply chain of the F-35 could slow down the work of 75 jets: naval officer

FILE PHOTO: A Lockheed Martin F-35 aircraft is seen at the ILA air show in Berlin, Germany, April 25, 2018. REUTERS / Axel Schmidt / File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – If Turkey was pulled out of the supply chain of F-35 jet planes as a result of a dispute with the United States over its proposed acquisition of a Russian missile system, this would have an impact on the production rate of 75 fighters, an official Pentagon said Thursday.

The United States has interrupted the delivery to Turkey of equipment related to the stealth fighter plane. This was the first concrete step taken by the United States to block the delivery of the aircraft to NATO ally, in view of the planned purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

"The assessment of the halt in Turkey would be 50 to 75 aircraft over a two-year period," said F-35 program chief Naval Vice Admiral Mathias Winter. to a subcommittee of the Armed Forces Committee of the House of Representatives.

Turkey produces between 6% and 7% of the F-35's parts, Winter said.

Winter's comment came as Washington explored the possibility of removing Turkey from F-35 production. Turkey manufactures fuselage, landing gear and cockpit components. Sources familiar with the complex F-35 production process around the world and last week's American thinking on the issue last week said that Turkey's role could be replaced.

"We would see within 45 to 90 days an impact of slowing or stopping these parts on the three production lines."

The F-35 has production lines in Italy, Texas and Japan.

"At the moment, there has been no disruption" in the supply chain, Winter said.

The program plans to deliver 131 aircraft this year, Winter said.

Report from Mike Stone; edited by Jonathan Oatis

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