Turkey receives its first F-35s amid congressional opposition

 In Politics

With Eli Okun, Connor O’Brien and Wesley Morgan

TURKEY RECEIVES ITS FIRST F-35s — BUT NOT SO FAST: “Lockheed Martin on Thursday delivered its first F-35 stealth fighter jet to Turkey, despite objections from some in Congress over Turkey’s detention of a U.S. pastor and its plan to buy a Russian air defense system,” reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

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“The F-35A Lightning II emblazoned with the star and crescent from the Turkish flag was unveiled at Lockheed Martin’s sprawling Fort Worth plant in front of about 1,000 spectators, who also enjoyed Turkish traditional folk music and dancing.

“‘We are not just purchasing weapons from the United States, or selling weapons to the United States. We are partners to the United States,’ Serdar Demirel, Turkey deputy undersecretary for defense industries, told the crowd. ‘We hope our partnership will continue.’”

But on Thursday, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) secured an amendment to the State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill that would prohibit funding to transfer the fighters to Turkey until the secretary of State certifies that Turkey isn’t purchasing and won’t accept deliveries of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the bill, adds our colleague Kaitlyn Burton.

The Senate and House versions of fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act also contain provisions that would bar sales of the jets until certain reporting requirements are met. And Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) has offered an amendment to the fiscal 2019 Defense Appropriations bill, H.R. 6157 that would bar the department from spending funding to transfer F-35’s to Turkey.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan faces re-election Sunday for a new five-year term that could make him “grandmaster” of the country, writes The Associated Press.

DoD TAPPED TO HELP HOUSE MIGRANT CHILDREN, report our colleagues Ted Hesson and Wesley Morgan: “The Trump administration has pledged to warehouse migrant families together. But at the moment, it has no place to put them.

“An executive order signed by President Donald Trump on Wednesday calls for the Homeland Security Department to keep migrant children in custody with their parents during criminal proceedings for illegal entry and subsequent immigration proceedings. But the cases of asylum-seekers caught at the border can take months or years to resolve — and the federal government has only 3,326 beds for detained families in three facilities, according to a 2017 watchdog report…

“The Defense Department notified congressional offices Thursday of a request by the Health and Human Resources Department to house 20,000 unaccompanied children between now and the end of the year. HHS would provide care for the children, ‘including supervision, meals, clothing, medical services, transportation or other daily needs,’ according to the memo sent to lawmakers.”

— SENDING JAGS TO THE BORDER ‘DEEPLY’ TROUBLES SENATORS: Three senior senators wrote to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Thursday that they are “deeply troubled” by his decision to send 21 Judge Advocates to the southern border to prosecute immigration cases.

The senators are opposing the move after the Defense Department said earlier this year they couldn’t extend Special Victims’ Counsels to support survivors of domestic violence and child abuse because the JAG Corps’ caseload is too full.

“Clearly, the military needs more, not fewer, lawyers available for its critical military justice practice,” Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), wrote. “Instead, we have now learned the services will be diverting these valuable resources to support a non-military mission.”

IT’S FRIDAY AND WELCOME TO MORNING DEFENSE, where we’re always on the lookout for tips, pitches and feedback. Email us at [email protected], and follow on Twitter @greg_hellman, @morningdefense and @politicopro.

MD TRIVIA: Today’s question comes from last week’s winner, John Schwenk: What was the original use of what is now Popes Head Park in Fairfax County, Va.?

The first person to email the correct answer to Morning D ([email protected]) wins a mention in Monday’s edition.

QUOTE OF THE DAY — THE ARMY PAYS ITS MORTGAGE: The Army is shifting its focus to more high-end capabilities, which it has invested fewer resources in since the global war on terrorism, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Thursday.

“The Army essentially leveraged or mortgaged our future when it came to modernization,” Milley said at the Capitol Hill National Security Forum, noting that Russia and China had made significant investments. “So we put modernization aside while we were engaged in combat operations in the Middle East.”

HAPPENING TODAY — TRUMP GOES TO THE PARADE: The president and first lady are scheduled to attend the Marine Corps Evening Parade at the Marine Barracks Washington on Capitol Hill.

— HOUSE PANELS EYE SPACE SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: The House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee and House Science Space Subcommittee convene a joint hearing on space situational awareness, featuring U.S. Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

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HOUSE DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS AMENDMENTS ROLL IN: Lawmakers have filed more than 100 amendments to the fiscal 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill, H.R. 6157. The House Rules Committee is scheduled to meet Monday evening to begin considering which ones will ultimately reach the chamber’s floor when it takes up the measure. And there’s a chance it gets packaged with the Labor-HHS appropriations bill, Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Kay Granger told our colleagues at the Budget and Appropriations Brief.

Here’s a quick rundown:

— IMMIGRATION: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has filed one of several proposals dealing with migrant detention and family separation. His measure would bar the Defense Department from using funds to assist with facilities where unaccompanied children are detained.

Similarly, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) has filed a measure that would prevent DoD from using funds to help the Department of Health and Human Services with the care or custody of unaccompanied migrant children.

— SHIPS: Reps. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), the leaders of HASC’s Seapower Subcommittee, are offering an amendment for funds for the Navy to buy its next two aircraft carriers, CVN-80 and CVN-81, on the same contract. The House NDAA would authorize the move.

Additionally, California Democrats Jackie Speier and John Garamendi are proposing to shift $950 million in funding for two Littoral Combat Ships to build Polar Icebreakers.

— A-10’S: Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) has an amendment to match the $163 million in funding authorized by the House NDAA to rewing A-10 Warthogs. McSally, a former A-10 pilot who has made preserving funding for the airplane a signature issue, is running for Senate in Arizona.

NDAA WATCH — CONGRESS IS LIKELY TO KICK-OFF THE CONFERENCE NEXT WEEK, reports our colleague Connor O’Brien: “The process of reconciling competing versions of the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act will likely begin next week, according to House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry and ranking Democrat Adam Smith…

“The House passed its version of the annual defense policy bill H.R. 5515 (115) in May. The Senate passed its version on Monday. Both chambers must now vote to form a joint conference committee and name lawmakers to negotiate a compromise.”

HOUSE PANEL APPROVES BUDGET BLUEPRINT: The House Budget Committee endorsed a conservative fiscal 2019 budget plan Thursday, 21 to 13, with every Republican supporting the measure. The legislation calls for $302 billion in mandatory spending cuts.

The details are here from POLITICO’s Sarah Ferris.

TRUMP AIMS TO TAG THE PENTAGON WITH BACKGROUND CHECKS, reports Connor: “The DoD would take over the federal background check process for security clearances under a new proposal from the Trump administration to reorganize federal agencies and a variety of government functions.

“The proposal, released [Thursday], calls for transferring the National Background Investigations Bureau, currently under the Office of Personnel Management, to the Pentagon.”

TRUMP CLAIMS NORTH KOREA IS ON A PATH TO ‘TOTAL DENUCLEARIZATION,’ via Reuters: “U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday North Korea was blowing up four of its big test sites and that a process of ‘total denuclearization … has already started,’ but officials said there was no such evidence since a landmark summit last week.

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