On May 1, an official once again voiced US concerns about Turkey’s intention to obtain both the US F-35 stealth aircraft and Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system.
During his testimony in front of the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee, Patrick Shanahan, US Acting Defense Secretary, remarked that Turkey will not be able to get its hands on the F-35 stealth warplanes if it persists on acquiring the Russian S-400 anti-air weapon system.
“I think there’s very little possibility that there is a misunderstanding,” Shanahan said, responding to a question from Representative Diaz-Balart on whether the US message sent to Turkey is “clear enough” for Turkish authorities to understand.
Shanahan also added that “there’s no confusion on the part of the US” that
Turkey will not receive the F-35s if it proceeds with the intended purchase from
The US administration, besides NATO officials, has repeatedly warned Turkey
that if it is to simultaneously acquire both the S-400 and F-35s, it will create a potential security risk as Russian experts would allegedly be able to get secret information related to the F-35 technology, also threatening NATO’s interoperability.
The US thus threatened to kick its NATO ally out of the F-35 program, with some US
senators also speaking of imposing sanctions on Turkey under the Countering
America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which targets Russia,
Iran, and North Korea.
In response to the US threat, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu indicated early in April that Turkey might obtain even more military equipment from Russia, including an alternative to the F-35s if the US removes Turkey from the F-35 program.
Similarly, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed earlier this week that a multinational project on the development of an F-35 technology would collapse without Turkish participation.
On the same day, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said there was no deadlock in the process yet, referring to the F-35 deal between the two NATO allies.
Some officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) further stated that the S-400 deal with Russia came after the US refusal to sell the US- made Patriot missile system to Turkey, adding that Russia’s offer was even better since it included technology transfers.
Previously, the US offered Turkey the more expensive Patriot anti-missile system at a discounted cost, that expired at the end of March, on condition of dropping its plans to purchase the S-400.
Turkey plans to buy 100 aircraft over the next few years and has already received four F-35 jets from the US so far – hoping to take delivery of two more in November – and more Turkish pilots are due to begin training at US air force bases.