Turkey’s defence industry has hired one of the United States’ most prestigious law firms in efforts to re-enter into the F-35 fighter jet programme it was kicked out of almost two years ago.
Turkey is now trying to regain entry into the program, with the state-owned Defence Industry Technologies – Savunma Sanayi Teknolojiler (SSTEK) – hiring Washington-based law firm Arnold & Porter for strategic advice and outreach to the programme’s partners and stakeholders.
In the contract of the deal revealed by the site Foreign Lobby, Ankara paid $750,000 to the firm to “advise on a strategy for the SSB and Turkish contractors to remain within the Joint Strike Fighter Program, taking into consideration and addressing the complex geopolitical and commercial factors at play.”
Under the agreement, the firm also aims to “undertake a targeted outreach to the US commercial partners and stakeholders” within the programme in order to detect their understanding of Turkey’s role as “a strategic ally and valued partner.” The firm will also “continually monitor export controls and trade sanctions…that may be relevant and explain any said sanctions.”
The removal of Turkey from the joint programme struck a major blow not only to bilateral relations and to its chance to acquire 100 F-35 jets, but also greatly worried Turkey’s defence industry and the companies affiliated with it which manufacture many of the parts needed for the jets.
According to the American news outlet Bloomberg in 2018, ten Turkish companies were set to make approximately $12 billion worth of parts.
Last year, however, it was announced that the Pentagon would be working with Turkey and those companies to continue producing the parts until 2022.
In a press briefing earlier this month, US Ambassador to Turkey David Satterfield expressed the US’ hope “that the issue of S-400 can be resolved.” Satterfield stated that although the issue “regrettably compelled the previous US administration to execute US law and impose sanctions under the CAATSA legislation,” Washington was careful about leaving Turkey’s defence industry un-impacted. “We targeted on that sanction very precisely. We did not aim at affecting the Turkish defense sector as a whole, but rather specific licenses to SSB.”