Production of the fifth F-35 stealth fighter jet for Turkey is completed and the aircraft will be sent to a U.S. airbase, pro-government Daily Star reported on Thursday.
The fifth jet has completed its first flight and will be transferred to Luke air force base in Arizona where the other four fighter jets have been located, Star said.
Turkey is planning to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets and took ceremonial delivery of the first two F-35 fighters in June 2018. The jets were sent to Luke air force base where they were used to teach Turkish pilots and crews to maintain and fly the fighters.
But, the U.S. Congress suspended Turkey’s participation in the F-35 joint manufacturing program and halted the delivery of the jets to the country after Ankara received its first shipment of Russian S-400 air missile systems despite U.S. officials’ objections. The United States maintains that the S-400s are not compatible with NATO equipment.
Some 42 Turkish pilots and maintenance crew at the Luke and Eglin air force bases returned to Turkey after the U.S. administration suspended Turkey’s participation in the program.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Sept. 26 said that Washington is currently considering letting Turkey back into the program.