The delivery of F-35 fighter jet equipment to Turkey has been halted by the United States,
marking the first concrete step to stop delivery of the F-35 to the US-NATO ally, Reuters
reported on Tuesday.
The halt in the delivery of the equipment is a significant step to prevent delivery of the jet to the to Turkey unless Ankara cancels its S-400 missile defense system purchase deal with Russia.
US officials reportedly told Turkish officials that Ankara will not receive further shipments of
any F-35 related equipment that is needed to prepare for the arrival of the fighter aircraft, sources told Reuters on Monday.
Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Defense Department spokesman, made a statement confirming the report that the equipment delivery had been stopped.
“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 has been suspended while our dialogue on this important matter continues with Turkey,” Andrews said.
The S-400 air defense system deal between Turkey and Russia, signed in 2017, caused ongoing friction between the two NATO allies as the US expressed strong disapproval of the deal.
In March, acting Pentagon spokesman, Charles Summer, said that Turkey’s purchase of the
S-400 missile defense system from Russia would result in grave consequences for the country.
Patrick Shanahan, acting US Defense Secretary, also said a week ago that the US wants Turkey to remain in the F-35 fighter jet program but added that the Turkish government needs to buy the Patriot air defense system and not the S-400.
Turkish President Erdogan has shown determination to push ahead with the S-400 purchase
plan and has refused the US offer to buy the Patriot air defense missiles.
The US, along with several NATO member countries that are part of the F-35 program, have said Turkey’s move to buy the Russian missile defense system would compromise the security of the F-35 aircraft built by Lockheed Martin Corp. They fear the radar on the Russian S-400 missile system will have the ability to spot and track the F-35 fighter jet, making it less able to evade Russian weapons in the future.
The disagreement over the F-35 is the latest of a series of diplomatic disputes between the US and Turkey. The two countries have been at odds with each other regarding Ankara’s demands that the US extradite Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, differences over Middle East policy and the war in Syria, and sanctions on Iran.
Turkey has said the Russian S-400s are set to arrive in July.