How Russian S-400 Missiles Caused Its First Casualty For US’ Stealth F-35 Jets?

How does the Russian S-400 missile defence system compete against US’ stealth F-35 jets? Even before Turkey could possibly test the S-400s against the F-35s (Ankara acquired the S-400s from Russia and was on track to obtain the stealth jets from the US) Ankara was kicked out by Washington from the F-35 program.

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The US said that it is expelling Turkey from its F-35 fighter jets programme after Ankara received the first parts of a Russian air defence system. The US says the “F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities”.

Turkey is not the only one to be upset. America’s F-35 combat aircraft makers, Lockheed Martin, are also suffering over the US decision of expelling Turkey. The timely production of key components of F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation multirole combat aircraft have been halted as Turkey, the senior development partner in the program was ejected from the F-35 program.

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Experts noted that the S-400s missiles, without even entering the battleground, have caused the first major casualty for the F-35 jets. The S-400s have not only have been able to pull a key US ally and NATO partner – Turkey towards Russia but has also delayed the production process of the US jets.

As reported earlier by Eurasian Times, since 2018, the two North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies have been at loggerheads with the US pressurising the Turkish government to cancel the purchases of S-400 systems from Russia.

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However, Turkey has stood its ground and has indicated to keep the deal, despite the threat of sanctions by the US. US special representative for Syria engagement James Jeffrey said the S-400 issue is the biggest obstacle to normalized relations between Washington and Ankara.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GOA), that as many as 15 parts were being produced by Turkish suppliers are not “being produced at the needed production rate”. The GOA has further stated that Lockheed had to identify new suppliers for 1005 parts that were previously produced by Turkish suppliers.

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According to reports by Sputnik, the production bottleneck caused by the halt in Turkish parts deliveries has been further aggravated by the fact that contractors have developed a habit of being late with parts deliveries.

A Pentagon agency responsible for administering Department of Defence contracts said that “between August 2017 and July 2019, the number of parts delivered late increased from under 2,000 to more than 10,000,” with “roughly 60 percent of parts shortages…attributable to 20 suppliers.”

“Although the contractor is changing the manufacturing processes to address problems and improve efficiency, more remains to be done. Unless the program office evaluates the risks of not meeting these leading practices, the military services and international partners are at risk of not receiving the quality aircraft they purchased,” the GAO stated.

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The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is easily the most expensive one with a whopping value of $1.6 trillion. The program intends to develop and acquire the F-35 Lightning II which will replace various other tactical aircraft including the US F-16, A-10, F/A-18A-D, AV-8B and British Harrier GR7, GR9s, and Tornado GR4.

Besides the US, UK, Italy, Canada, Australia, Turkey, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are a part of the program.

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Ilya Tsukanov, a Sputnik correspondent, noted that the efforts by the Pentagon and Lockheed to create a one-size-fits-all fighter for use by the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps have necessitated a series of innovative solutions, but have also left the plane with serious drawbacks, such as a single-engine design making it unsuitable for long-term deployment at sea, as well literally hundreds of major and minor problems, glitches and bugs caused by overengineering.