U.S. Senate defense bill would bar sale of F-35 jets to Turkey

F35 Stealth multirole fighter - U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen - CC wikimedia

Reuters – A U.S. Senate committee passed its version of a $716 billion defence policy bill on Thursday, including a measure to prevent Turkey from purchasing Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

Turkey made an agreement with Russia in December to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries. Ankara wants the system to boost its defence capabilities amid threats from Kurdish and Islamist militants at home and conflicts across its borders in Syria and Iraq.

According to Senator Shaheen, one of the two senators who introduced the bill,  the intention to purchase the Russian system is sanctionable under U.S. law.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have been strained over a host of issues in recent months, including U.S. policy in Syria and a number of legal cases against Turkish and U.S. nationals being held in the two countries.

Turkey has said it would retaliate if the United States enacted a law halting weapons sales to the country.

Turkey plans to buy more than 100 of the F-35 jets and has had talks with Washington about the purchase of Patriot missiles.

The NDAA is several steps before a final bill can come up for a vote in both the House and Senate later this year.