The United States Air Force will officially acquire eight F-35A Lighting II jets previously bound for Turkey, plus six more F-35A stealth aircraft in an $861.7 million dollar contract the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.
This announcement comes after a year of uncertainty about what would happen to F-35s that had been earmarked for Ankara after the United States ousted the Turks from the joint strike fighter program. As part of the deal, an additional six F-35As will be built for the Air Force and will include “recurring engineering” that will bring the Turkish jets back in line with the U.S. configuration. All of the work is to be completed by May 2026.
A statement from the Pentagon said that the contract modifies a previous fixed-price deal and “exercises options to procure eight Lot 14 F-35A Lightning II repositioned aircraft as a result of the Republic of Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program.” The other six Air Force F-35As included in the contract are from the same lot.
According to Defense One, the FY21 NDAA, which is in the Senate but has not yet been approved, contains additional language that would allow the Air Force to accept, operate, or even modify the first six Turkish F-35s.