Breaking News

US will move F-35 work out of Turkey if Ankara buys S-400: Pentagon

The Pentagon says it will halt manufacturing support for the F-35 fighter jet in Turkey unless Ankara scraps its plan to buy a Russian missile defense system.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said the US was vehemently opposed to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft technology.

“If Turkey decides that the S-400 is a decision they want to go forward with, then we have to move work out of Turkey,” Shanahan said.

He went on to say that he had discussed options with delegations from US aerospace manufacturers Lockheed Martin and United Technologies should Turkey go ahead with its plan.

Meanwhile, key House members announced a bill Friday to bar the sale of the warplane to Turkey if Ankara buys the Russian system.

The bill was sponsored by House Armed Services Committee members — Reps. Mike Turner, R-Ohio; John Garamendi, D-Calif., and Paul Cook, R-Calif. The bill is a companion to a bipartisan bill from Sen. James Lankford, R-Kan., and others.

“Operating the S-400 alongside the F-35 would compromise the aircraft and its sensitive technology, impact interoperability among NATO allies, and most importantly pose serious risk to our shared defense and security,” Garamendi said in a statement. “This bill sends a strong and important message to Turkey — proceeding with the S-400 is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 in December 2017. Back in April 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the S-400. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020.

The US and a number of NATO member states criticized Turkey for its planned purchase of the S-400, arguing the missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance.

The US also warned of tough sanctions if Turkey pursued plans to acquire S-400. Ankara, however, said it would not go back on the deal with Russia.

Advertisements