On April 1st, the US officially stopped the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey over the purchase of S-400 from Russia.
“The United States has been clear that Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 is unacceptable,” said acting Pentagon spokesman Charles Summers Jr. “Until they forgo delivery of the S-400, the United States has suspended deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability. Should Turkey procure the S-400, their continued participation in the F-35 program is at risk.”
Earlier, during a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in February, US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, European Command commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, said that he would recommend that the US should not sell the F-35 to Turkey if it acquired the S-400.
“My best military advice would be that we don’t then follow through with the F-35, flying it or working with an ally that’s working with Russian systems, particularly air defense systems,” Scaparrotti said.
On April 2nd, US President Donald Trump’s nominee for head of NATO and EUCOM U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Tod Wolters repeated those remarks.
“I concur with this committee’s belief that the S-400 and the F-35 are not compatible, and if Turkey proceeds down a path to procure and operate the S-400, they should not get the F-35,” Wolters said, adding that “it’s absolutely unsustainable to support co-location of an F-35 and S-400.”
Also on the same day, the US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he was confident that Turkey would drop its plan to purchase the S-400 and buy the US Patriot system instead.
“I’ve had a number of conversations with Defense Minister Akar and I really think we’ll resolve this situation with our strategic partners,” he said. “I am very confident in the Patriot proposal that we’ve delivered to Turkey, its availability, it’s pricing, and very importantly, the industrial participation that comes along with the Patriot system.”
In answer, on April 3rd, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that Donald Trump could “take care” of the F-35 and S-400 issue.
“Turkey doesn’t have to choose between Russia and any others, and we don’t see our relationship with Russia as an alternative to others,” he said. “Nobody, neither West nor Russia, should ask us to choose.”
He also denied any possibility to terminate the S-400 deal. “It’s a done deal,” Çavuşoğlu said. “This is a done deal.”
Çavuşoğlu, regarding the block of the F-35 fighter jets delivery said that “we are a part of this program. It should be that simple.” He expressed a belief that the F-35 sales will eventually turn back on, noting “different statements are coming from different institutions of the United States as well… different and contradictory statements are coming.”
Çavuşoğlu on March 29th, also said that Turkey was committed to the S-400 deal.
“As a principle, it is contrary to international laws for a third country to oppose an agreement between two countries,” Cavusoglu said. “We are committed to this agreement. There can be no such thing as selling to a third country. We are buying them for our own needs.”
Cavusoglu also insisted Turkey had met all of its obligations concerning the F-35 program.
In an article, the National Interest alleged that the Russian S-400 could potentially down a F-35, due to a leak of information – be it due to Turkey providing it or by Russia exploiting vulnerabilities in software.
“Pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400, deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability have been suspended while our dialogue on this important matter continues with Turkey,” Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said. “We very much regret the current situation facing our F-35 partnership, but the DOD is taking prudent steps to protect the shared investments made in our critical technology.”
“The U.S. continues to warn Turkey of the negative consequences of its announced procurement of the S-400. We have, however, been clear that the acquisition of the S-400 is not compatible with the F-35 and Turkey’s continued participation in the F-35 program is at risk,” Andrews said.
Additionally, the ban on the delivery of the F-35 to Turkey creates the possibility of it concluding even more deals for Russian weapons.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- ‘First Concrete Step’: US Halts F-35 Equipment Shipments To Turkey Over S-400 Deal
- US Move To Ban F-35 Delivery To Turkey Opens Additional Prospects For Russan Weapons