F-35 Program Executive: Turkey Will Be Phased out by March 2020

The Pentagon’s F-35 Program Executive, Lieutenant General Eric Fick, testified on the 13th November, in front of US Congress. In his testimony, he affirmed efforts to procure alternative suppliers to replace Turkish ones were on track to completion by March next year. He claimed that Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney have already made “spectacular progress” in finding new suppliers.

Turkey was officially removed from the joint F-35 program in July earlier this year. Since then, the United States found alternative suppliers for all but 12 parts that were provided by Turkish contractors.

“There were between Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney a thousand and five parts that were singles or dual sourced into Turkey, so we began just over a year ago and very quietly but deliberately taking actions to establish alternative sources for all of those parts.” Said Lieutenant General Eric Fick. “We’re not quite there yet. So we have on the airframe side about 11 components that still we have yet to mitigate to be able to be at full reproduction on those parts by the end of March. And on the engines, there’s, I believe one: integrally bladed rotors, IBRs”

The Pratt & Whitney F135 engine (Wikipedia:Duch.seb)

The committee reaffirmed that Turkey’s exit from the program was final before asking the Program Executive about the progress made. It followed his answer by asking whether the Turkish suppliers were currently continuing to supply the US with the parts, to which he answered positively.

The hearing took place during an official visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the White House. The Turkish defense sector is expected to suffer great losses as a result of Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 program, to which it contributed 6-7% of the production. Turkish companies contracted as part of the program are expected to lose up to 30% of their annual turnover as a result.