On July 17th, the White House announced that Turkey has been officially removed from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
The statement announcing the decision was made by White House Spokesperson Stephanie Grisham.
“Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible. The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities. The United States has been actively working with Turkey to provide air defense solutions to meet its legitimate air defense needs, and this Administration has made multiple offers to move Turkey to the front of the line to receive the U.S. PATRIOT air defense system. Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems. This will have detrimental impacts on Turkish interoperability with the Alliance. The United States still greatly values our strategic relationship with Turkey. As NATO Allies, our relationship is multi-layered, and not solely focused on the F-35. Our military-to-military relationship is strong, and we will continue to cooperate with Turkey extensively, mindful of constraints due to the presence of the S-400 system in Turkey.”
“The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the programme and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the programme,” said Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment at the Pentagon.
“All actions to wind down were reversible and this was done to allow sufficient time for Turkish personnel associated with the F-35 program to be reassigned and depart the United States by July 31, 2019,” Lord said in her briefing.
Lord said moving the supply chain for the advanced fighter jet would cost the US between $500m and $600m in non-recurring engineering costs.
Turkey makes more than 900 parts of the F-35, she said, adding the supply chain would transition from Turkish to mainly US factories as Turkish suppliers are removed.
“Turkey will certainly and regrettably lose jobs and future economic opportunities from this decision,” Lord said. “It will no longer receive more than nine billion dollars in projected work share related to the F-35 over the life of the programme.”
US President Donald Trump blamed the failure on former US President Barack Obama, despite Turkey and Russia agreeing to the purchase of the S-400 system in September 2017.
On July 16th, Trump refused to criticize the purchase of the S-400 system, but said that the F-35 can’t be delivered in such a scenario.
“I’ve had a good relationship with President Erdogan,” Trump told journalists.
“It’s a very tough situation that they’re in and it’s a very tough situation that we’ve been placed in… With all of that being said, we’re working through it – we’ll see what happens,” he said.
“Because they have a system of missiles that’s made in Russia, they’re now prohibited from buying over 100 planes. I would say that Lockheed isn’t exactly happy. That’s a lot of jobs,” Trump said, referring to the F-35 manufacturer.
The U.S. Department of State cleared a possible $3.5 billion sale of Patriot air defense systems to Turkey in December, although the Department of Defense warned that that acquisition, along with those of CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, and F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft could be affected by its going ahead with the S-400 purchase.
Part of what has driven Erdoğan’s decision to go with the S-400 system is that Turkey may gain the technology to build S-400 systems itself.
“Now our goal is co-producing with Russia, ” Erdoğan said. “We’ll do this. We’ll go even further.”
On July 17th, the Turkish Foreign Ministry responded to the US decision, calling it “unfair.”
“This unilateral step contradicts with the spirit of alliance and does not rely on any legitimate justification.
It is not fair to remove Turkey, a main partner, from the F-35 Program and also the claim that S-400 system would jeopardize the F-35s is baseless.
The fact that our proposal to form a working group with the participation of NATO on this issue has been left unanswered, is the most obvious evidence of the prejudice on the U.S. side and the lack of will to resolve the issue in good faith.
The U.S. should display commitment to its friendship with Turkey not only in rhetoric, but through action and particularly in the fight against DEASH, PKK/PYD/YPG and FETÖ terrorist organizations.”
The Foreign Ministry statement further said that US President Donald Trump had completely walked back on agreements made with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the G20 Osaka Summit that took place on June 28-29th.
This decision marks a significant failure of US international policy, which is pushing Turkey away from the Washington-led establishment.
This is further reinforced by the recent EU decision to sanction the country for drilling off the coast of Cyprus. The drilling is neither new, nor surprising and it is obviously used as a method of indirect pressure of the US..
In recent weeks, several years of US international policy appear to be proving as at least a partiral failure. Korea and Japan are at odds over sanctions and WW2 reparations. Many countries are beginning to open their eyes towards the Iran “charade.” The US-backed opposition in Venezuela has all but lost all hope of regime change.
Russia was allowed back into the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), which primarily the US (which isn’t even a member) and Ukraine antagonized, to no avail.
Through its recent policy all that the US apparently is achieving is to undermine its own aspirations of grandeur and dominance, by pushing established allies such as Turkey towards Russia.
It’s harsh policy towards China is also pushing it towards Russia, which, ultimately, couldn’t be entirely blamed on US international policy, since US-Chinese relations were never that “warm.”
The result is becoming more and more apparent – allies are slowly vanishing and investment in propaganda both in the US and outside of it, through media and various reports based on thin air, is on the rise.
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