February 18
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US senators have launched a new effort to block the transfer of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey, reported CNN.

Just minutes after Turkey was scheduled to receive its first jets, a bipartisan group of lawmakers added an amendment to the Senate’s appropriation bill for the State Department and foreign operations that would prohibit the use of State Department, foreign operations, and related program funds from being used “to transfer, or to facilitate the transfer of, F-35 aircraft to Turkey,” unless the secretary of state certifies that Turkey will not purchase the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft missile system.

A US defense official said the concern is that the Russian-made S-400, particularly if it’s plugged into Turkey’s integrated air defense system, could gather technical data on the F-35’s capabilities, and that critical information could be passed to Moscow—either intentionally or unintentionally—through a back door in the Russian designed system.

“The concern is that the F-35 is the most advanced aircraft, the most advanced NATO aircraft, and if Turkey goes forward with the acquisition of the S-400, it will allow the Russians to collect information on how to best attack an F-35 fighter,” said Senator Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat and one of the amendment’s co-sponsors.

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