ANKARA – Washington has threatened Turkey to exclude the country from its F-35 multi-purpose fighter manufacturing program due to Ankara’s decision to acquire the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft defense systems.
The US argues that this Russian weaponry is not compatible with NATO standards.
Furthermore, according to the US, the deployment of the S-400 systems in Turkey could allow Russia to gather critical information that would weaken NATO and jeopardize the US F-35 poaching that Turkish companies are helping to build.
Turkey can now decide to buy Russian fighters if the United States blocks Ankara’s participation in its F-35 fighter program.
The US has repeatedly warned Turkey that it will not be able to participate in the F-35 fighter development and procurement program if it purchases the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan reaffirmed last week during the meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan, that the delivery process for the S-400 systems will be carried out “without delay.”
On Monday, the Turkish channel NTV quoted statements by the Turkish president that the delivery of the S-400 to Ankara will take place in the next ten days.
On Monday, US Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said Erdogan “needs to stop playing games and choose between the West or Russia.”
The S-400 deal “jeopardizes NATO and our own national security,” Engel said in a statement. “Turkey cannot operate an advanced Russian air defense system alongside sensitive NATO and American systems, period. President Erdogan must know there will be consequences.”
US sanctions would degrade the alliance between the countries, and while Turkey would retaliate, it would leave the door open for resolving differences, they added. Last summer, Washington penalized Ankara over the jailing of an American pastor, compounding an already challenging economic outlook. The Turkish lira lost about a quarter of its value, inflation and joblessness soared, and the economy entered its first technical recession in a decade.