Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said last month that the United States was trying to get Turkey back into the F-35 program. His public statement was somewhat surprising given that Turkey was officially excluded from the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program in July. Also, Congress is still threatening to slap Turkey with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) after Ankara went ahead with the procurement of the Russian S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile defense system, despite Washington’s relentless efforts to stop them. The proponents of Turkey’s removal from the JSF program argued that the Russian S-400 and F-35 jet fighters shouldn’t coexist as the Russians may be able to have access to the secret codes of F-35. However, Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that “the U.S. did not respond to Turkey’s offer to establish a joint commission to check the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems.”
So, why is the United States changing its mind on its earlier decision to boot Turkey out of the F-35 multinational program? The answer lies in Washington’s growing isolation in the Middle East and the mounting financial troubles the JSF program is facing.