US senate approves bill suspending sale of F-35 jets to Turkey

Only hours after the U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on two Turkish ministers over their role in the detainment of Pastor Andrew Brunson, the U.S. Senate approved a bill postponing the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey
Thursday, 02 August 2018 17:59

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $717 billion defense policy bill on August 1, which includes an amendment that prohibits the sale of F-35 jets to Turkey until Pentagon issues a report in 90 days.

The U.S. Senate easily passed a $716.3 billion defense authorization bill on Wednesday that ramps up military spending and bolsters America’s posture against Russia.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed 87 to 10 in the Senate a week after clearing the House of Representatives and now heads to the White House for Trump’s signature.

The decision on the F-35 jets came just hours after the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions on Minister of Justice Abdülhamit Gül and Minister of Interior Süleyman Soylu for their perceived role in or in the leading up to the detainment of US pastor Andrew Brunson who is currently under house arrest in Turkey.

The bill would also authorize a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops, the largest in nearly a decade, as well as boost the size of the Navy and the ranks of the military services by 15,600 active-duty troops.

The Pentagon report is expected to include an assessment of Turkey's participation in the F-35 program as well as the risks that would be posed by the country's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said Tuesday regarding cooperation with the United States on F-35 fighter jets that it was "a multinational project."

"Turkey will take legal action if any measures are taken to prevent the delivery," he added, saying that Turkey has alternatives and is "not a country that can be easily dispensed with."