The US on Friday gave Turkey until the end of next month to break an agreement with Russia to purchase an S-400 missile defense system, which Washington considers incompatible with Ankara’s involvement in the F-35 fighter jet program.
If by July 31 Turkey does not abandon its S-400 acquisition plans, Turkish pilots currently training in the US on the F-35 will be expelled, and agreements with Turkish firms sub-contracted for manufacturing the F-35 stealth warplane will be cancelled, Ellen Lord, the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters.
Lord said the deadline “will allow sufficient time for Turkish personnel associated with the F-35 program to be reassigned and depart the United States… to facilitate an orderly cessation of Turkish participation.”
She justified the US ultimatum by the fact that Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, had already sent its personnel to Russia to start training with the S-400.
On Tuesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was “determined” to proceed with the Russia deal.
US officials have said they expected Turkey to opt for the American Patriot system instead, arguing that would allow the F-35 program to continue.
Turkey plans to buy 100 US F-35s.
Erdogan said he told the US that Ankara would buy Patriots only if Washington’s conditions of delivery were as positive as Moscow’s.
“But unfortunately we haven’t received a positive proposal from the American side on the subject of Patriots like the S-400s from Russia,” he said.
– with reporting by AFP