According to Mikrofonnews Agency (MHA), the United States of America has handed over the first F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet to Turkey despite strong opposition from the Congress.
The formal handoff ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s F-35 facility in Fort Worth, Texas was attended by Senior US and Turkish defense officials and representatives of the companies that took part in the construction and repair of the fighter’s engine, and senior executives at Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Officials say training programs for the Turkish pilots will begin soon alongside US airmen. Turkey will receive five more F-35 fighters from Pentagon’s top weapons supplier by 2019. The advanced military jets will strengthen Turkey military and defense power in the war against terrorism.
Earlier, US Senate voted to block F-35 fighters jets’ sale to Turkey and Turkish Prime Minister had warned that Turkey will find another “alternative” if the deal is blocked.
Turkey had sought to get around 100 F-35s from the US, though concerns about Ankara’s warming relations with Moscow and its attempts to buy Russian air defense systems have given US lawmakers pause for thought.
Turkey, along with 13 other Nato allies, helps manufacture the F-35 warplanes. The sale of 100 F-35s was set to cost some $10bn.