U.S. to deliver first batch of F-35 fighters to Turkey despite Congressional hindrance
ANKARA, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The United States will deliver the first batch of F-35 joint strike fighters to Turkey in June, despite attempts by the U.S. Congress to suspend the weaponry procurement, local media reported Wednesday.
The first batch of the 30 F-35 fighters will be delivered on June 21 in the U.S., where Turkish pilots will receive intense training, Hurriyet Daily News reported, citing Turkish defense industry authorities.
The Turkish military plans to upgrade the current F-16 fleets with 100 F-35 aircraft, in order to reinforce its air defense capabilities, the report said.
On May 4, the U.S. House of Representatives released the details of a 717-billion-U.S.-dollar annual defense bill, including the move to suspend weapons sales to Turkey.
The proposal urged the U.S. government to impose sanctions on Turkey since Ankara signed a deal with Moscow on the purchase of two S-400 surface-to-air systems last December.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said Turkey will retaliate if the U.S. ratifies a bill halting weapons sales to the country.