The White House on Wednesday confirmed that Turkey would be excluded from NATO’s F-35 stealth jet program after it purchased a Russian missile defense system in defiance of warnings from Western allies.
“Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.
The US-made F-35 “cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” she added.
The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the move was “unfair,” saying in a statement that “this one-sided step neither complies with the spirit of alliance nor is it based on legitimate reasons.”
Grisham said that Washington had made “multiple” offers of its own Patriot missile defense system to Turkey, but Ankara went ahead and acquired the S-400, running counter to a NATO pledge to avoid adopting Russian systems.
“This will have detrimental impacts on Turkish interoperability with the alliance,” she said.
Grisham added that the US “still greatly values” its strategic relationship with Ankara and would “continue to cooperate with Turkey extensively, mindful of constraints due to the presence of the S-400 system in Turkey.”
The announcement came five days after Turkey began taking delivery of the Russian missile system, shrugging off two years of warnings from the US and other NATO allies that it could imperil their relationship.
The US action will lock out a number of Turkish manufacturers that were producing parts and components for the F-35, and block Turkey’s plans to purchase about 100 of the advanced fighters.
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