Turkey is being removed from the F-35 fighter jet program, the United States confirmed Wednesday.
Turkey Receives S-400 System Amid Sanctions Threat from US
The decision to cut Turkey from the program was expected, particularly after the middle eastern country signed for the delivery of the sophisticated Russian S-400 military defense system last week.
In a statement Stephanie Grisham, White House press secretary, said, “Unfortunately, Turkey's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible.
"The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” she said.
The Pentagon had already laid out a plan to remove Turkey from the program, including halting any new training for Turkish pilots on the advanced aircraft. However, the U.S. said it hopes to salvage a relationship with Ankara despite the F-35 decision and the sanction threats.
At least two Russian Air Force AN-124 cargo planes flew to Turkey on Friday morning, data from plane tracking website Flightradar24 showed. Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said the deliveries would continue in accordance with an agreed schedule, the RIA news agency reported.
An unnamed military-diplomatic source was cited by Russia’s TASS news agency as saying a second delivery would be carried out by plane soon. A third delivery – of 120 guided missiles – will be carried out by ship at the end of the summer, the source was quoted as saying.
Investors in Turkey have been unsettled by the deal. The Turkish lira weakened as far as 5.728 against the dollar from 5.683 before the ministry announced the arrival of the S-400 consignment to the Murted Air Base, northwest of Ankara. The main Istanbul share index <.XU100> fell 1.4%.