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Lockheed's F-35 has a Turkey problem

Bloomberg logoBloomberg 10/6/2018 Robert Levinson
An F-35 fighter jet is seen as Turkey takes delivery of its first F-35 with a ceremony at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 21, 2018.© Atilgan Ozdil/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images An F-35 fighter jet is seen as Turkey takes delivery of its first F-35 with a ceremony at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 21, 2018.

Congress could block the sale of fighter jets to Turkey. The only problem? The country manufactures essential parts for the F-35.

In August, Congress passed legislation that could block the sale of 100 of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 fighter jets to Turkey because of an agreement the Turks have to buy a Russian air defense system. That’s creating problems. Turkey is a global leader in aerospace manufacturing, and 10 Turkish companies will make about $12 billion worth of parts for the F-35, including key components such as the center fuselage and some landing gear. For certain items, like the cockpit display, Turkey is the only source in the world.

© Illustration by Chris Philpot

Turkish Aerospace Industries

Together with Northrop Grumman, TAI manufactures and assembles the center fuselage, weapons bay doors, and air-to-ground pylons used to carry equipment

Ayesas

Is the sole supplier for two major F-35 components—the missile remote interface unit and the panoramic cockpit display

Kale Aerospace

Manufactures airframe structures and landing gear uplock assemblies

Fokker Elmo

Makes 40 percent of the electrical wiring interconnection system (EWIS) for the F135 engine

Alp Aviation

Manufactures airframe structures and assemblies, landing gear components, and more than 100 engine parts for the F135, including titanium integrated blade rotors

A Risk to Supplies?

If the U.S. blocks the jet deal, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan could cut off the flow of parts from his country. “If the Turkish supply chain was disrupted today, it would result in an aircraft production break, delaying delivery of 50-75 jets and would take approximately 18-24 months to re-source parts,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis wrote in July in a letter to Congress. Erdogan has said little about how he might respond. Mattis must submit a report to Congress by mid-November on the potential impact of any change to Turkey’s participation. Lockheed says for now the sale to the Turks is on track.

Related video: F-35 gets chance to shine on the high seas (provided by Reuters)

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