Secret Israeli lobbying stoked tensions between Turkey and US over F-35 fighter jets and Russian S-400 missiles, Israeli Channel 12 reports.

A US F-35A fighter jet prepares to land at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, March 29, 2019.
A US F-35A fighter jet prepares to land at Chungju Air Base in Chungju, South Korea, March 29, 2019. (AP)

Israel secretly lobbied the US Trump administration to block Turkey from purchasing its F-35 fighter jets in an effort to maintain its military edge in the region, according to Israeli media report.

Israel began urging the White House to drop Ankara from its F-35 project soon after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved the purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia, Channel 12 reported on Thursday.

"It put pressure on Washington to cancel the sale of advanced aircraft to Turkey," it said.

US-Turkey tensions

Turkey was suspended from the F-35 programme in July, with the US administration claiming the Russian S-400 would compromise the security of its F-35 jets. 

Turkey denies the claim, adding that for years it tried unsuccessfully to buy US Patriot missile defence before it turned to the S-400s.

While US President Donald Trump has resisted penalising Turkey over the S-400 issue, there has been pressure from Congress as well as his own administration to take measures against Turkey, including sanctions.

Israel only country in Mideast with F-35s

In the last two years, Israel started purchasing F-35s from the US, making it the only country in the Middle East to own this type of fighter aircraft.

The Israeli government has signed agreements with US defence contractor Lockheed Martin to purchase at least 50 F-35 aircraft using US aid funds.

The aircraft will be delivered in batches of twos and threes through 2024.

Israel, in 2018, revealed that its air forces had used the F-35 fighter jets in Lebanon which makes it the first military in the world to do so.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies