Turkey warns of 'irreparable damages' to US ties over Washington's F-35 decision
Turkey has slammed the United States over its decision to end the F-35 fighter jet deal with Ankara after its purchase of the S-400 missiles from Russia.
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“This one-sided step neither complies with the spirit of alliance nor is it based on legitimate reasons,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
“It is unfair to remove Turkey, one of the partners in the F-35 program,” the ministry added, dismissing as “invalid” American claims that the advanced Russian air defense system S-400 would be a danger to the F-35s.
“We invite the US to take back this error, which will pave the way to irreparable damage to our strategic relations,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.
The statement was made shortly after the White House officially banished Turkey from the fifth-generation stealth jet production program after repeated warnings to Ankara not to proceed with the purchase of the Russian missile defense systems.
The White House earlier on Wednesday called the S-400 “a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about [the F35’s] advanced capabilities.”
Turkish F-35 technicians and pilots training in the US would also be sent back by the end of this month.
Ankara confirmed the delivery of the first batch of equipment for the Russian S-400s last week.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said all the Russian missile defense systems received by his country would be fully deployed in April 2020, and that Ankara sought to produce the missile defense systems jointly with Moscow.
Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish soil.
The S-400, which the US claims is incompatible with NATO’s air defenses and the Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35, is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 400 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Moscow and Ankara finalized the agreement on the delivery of the S-400 in December 2017 even as US officials warned that the move would damage Turkey’s ability to work with NATO.
Washington is expected to level sanctions against Ankara under the so-called Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which mandates US sanctions against anyone making a significant deal with the Russian defense industry.