July 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Air Force will buy eight F-35A conventional takeoff and landing jets originally built for Turkey as part of an $862 million contract modification, the Pentagon has announced.
The deal, announced Monday, also funds modifications of F-35As originally built for the Air Force to bring them back into line with U.S. configurations.
Turkey had planned to buy 100 F-35As over the course of its participating in the international F-35 partnership, but was ejected a year ago after purchasing the S-400 air defense system from Russia over objections from U.S. leadership.
By then, the first F-35s intended for Turkey had rolled off assembly lines and Turkish pilots and maintainers were training to fly and fix them alongside U.S. personnel. But the jets were never actually delivered to Turkey.
Actually ending the program has taken time, however, and tried the patience of some elected officials, who sent a letter earlier this month to Defense Secretary Mark Esper calling for a swifter end to the partnership.
In January, Ellen Lord, the Pentagon's top secretary for acquisitions, said the Pentagon would allow prime F-35 contractor Lockheed Martin to honor its existing contractual obligations with Turkish manufacturers of F-35 components.
The contract modification uses funding from the fiscal year 2020 budget to pay for the jets.