Turkey Says US Crackdown on Ankara Over S-400s Finds Little Support Among F-35 Programme Partners
22:08 24.06.2019(updated 22:09 24.06.2019)
Washington has been pressuring Ankara into abandoning the S-400 deal with Russia by threatening to stop deliveries of F-35 jets, despite Turkey's contribution to the project's funding and development. The US claims that the Russian air defence system can render the jet's stealth capabilities useless by passing data on it to Moscow.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has stated that US decision to halt training sessions for Turkish F-35 pilots over the S-400 spat found no support among other participants of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme, which funded the development of the highly costly aircraft in the first place. The cabinet minister further stated that neither this move, nor others by Washington can affect Ankara's determination to obtain Russia air defence systems on time.
"Regardless of whatever sanctions there may be, whatever statement would come from the United States, we have purchased S-400s and right now we are talking about when they will be delivered," Cavusoglu said.
Cavusoglu further defended Ankara's decision to purchase S-400s from Russia by noting that at the moment, NATO capabilities can at best protect 30% of Turkey's airspace, which is not sufficient.
The Pentagon halted training sessions for the Turkish pilots earlier in June, after Ankara shrugged off the ultimatum issued by Washington: to abort the purchase of Russian air defence systems or not get F-35 warplanes. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeatedly stated that the purchase of S-400s is a done deal and that their supplies will start on schedule in the first half of July.
The US has been pressuring Turkey to ditch the deal since it was inked in December 2017, arguing that the S-400 are not compatible with other NATO systems and that it poses a threat to the F-35's stealth capabilities. Washington claims that Russian air defence system can reveal the jet's weaknesses to Moscow.
Turkey invited the US to jointly establish a working group to iron out concerns regarding the S-400 air defences, but Washington rejected the offer. Instead, it has repeatedly threatened Turkey with a halt to the supply of the F-35 jets, despite Turkey's initial investment in their development and the fact that Ankara paid for several jets upfront. The US has also threatened sanctions and to eject Turkey from NATO.
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