United States accuses Turkey of buying a Russian missile defense system from the F-35 fighter jet program. Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian system made it impossible for the country to remain part of the F-35 program, the White House said Wednesday. According to the US Department of Defense, Turkey can no longer buy the jets for United States. The exclusion of Ankara from the program should therefore be completed in March 2020.
The White House said the F-35 jets could not be used alongside a Russian spy instrument used to learn more about the aircraft’s capabilities. The purchase of the S-400 undermines the obligations of NATO members among themselves to stay away from Russian systems. A government spokeswoman said the United States still valued the strategic relationship with Turkey.
The purchase of Russian missile defense has been causing strife for months between America and Turkey. Washington fears, according to its own data, that Russia will use the radar of the weapons system to obtain data on the capabilities of the new American fighter jets F-35. Turkey, one of the partners in the construction of the F-35, should actually get about 100 jets. The US Department of Defense had already taken steps in June to roll Turkey out of the program at the end of July.
Representatives of the Pentagon said Wednesday that the exclusion of Turkey aims to protect the fighter jet program. State Secretary Ellen Lord affirmed that the United States would fill in gaps and that there would be no delays in delivering F-35 aircraft to countries that had already ordered them. The United States would spend between $ 500 million and $ 600 million once to shift production.
Lord did not want to comment on whether the Turkish government could become part of the program again if it gave up the Russian missile defense system. She said that the exclusion decision was in line with the project’s other partners. The program includes UK, Italy, Canada and Australia.
The delivery of the S-400 from Russia to Turkey began on Friday. Since then, according to the Ministry of Defense in Ankara more aircraft with Russian missile parts at the air base Murted (formerly Akinci) landed at Ankara.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was sympathetic to Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian system. Turkey was “forced” to take the step because Washington’s previous Democratic government did not sell her the American Patriot system. The Republican took over an argument of the Turkish government.
Turkey has repeatedly stated that in earlier years, they had repeatedly applied for Patriots, without getting them. The Pentagon, however, underlined on Wednesday that there have been several offers in the past to Turkey to buy the Patriot system.
The US State Department also threatened Turkey with sanctions for buying the Russian system. A State Department spokeswoman said Tuesday that Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are still considering the various options.