Turkish fighter pilot completes first flight in US with F-35 jet

A Turkish Air Force pilot completed the first flight in US with Turkey's F-35 fighter jet, the country's Armed Forces announced on August 2018. This important milestone occurs amid strong tensions with US regarding delivery of the jet to Ankara.

Turkish fighter pilot completes first flight in US with F 35 jet A Turkish Air Force F-35 fighter jet performing flght tests in the US airspace
(Credit: Turkish Armed Forces/Twitter)

"The first F-35 flight was carried out by our pilot on August 28, 2018, within continued training of Turkish pilots in the US," the Turkish Armed Forces said on Twitter.

Last month, the US Department of Defense confirmed that Turkish pilots and maintenance personnel were being trained on the F-35 fighter jet in Arizona. 

In early August, U.S. President Donald Trump approved a record defense budget law delaying delivery of F-35 fighter jetsjets to Turkey. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), quickly approved by Congress, prohibits F-35 sales to Turkey until the Pentagon issues a report on Turkish-American relations in 90 days.

Turkey has been involved in the F-35 program since 1999, and the Turkish defense industry has taken an active role in the production of aircraft parts, as it has already invested $1.25 billion in the aircraft's development. Alp Aviation, AYESAŞ, Kale Aviation, Kale Pratt & Whitney and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) have been producing parts for the first F-35 fighter jet. AYESAŞ is also the sole provider of two key components of the plane.

The Turkish Air Force plans to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets in the coming years. The country took delivery of its first F-35 fighter jet at a ceremony in Fort Worth, Texas, on June 21.