Turkey may turn to Russia for help after U.S. cancels F-35 parts delivery
The Pentagon has suspended the delivery of F-35 Lightning II aircraft to Turkey, following Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 missiles.
In what has become another point of contention between the U.S. and Turkey, the “black sheep” of NATO has enlisted the help of the Russians for their defense needs- something the United States isn’t happy about.
“Pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400, deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability have been suspended while our dialogue on this important matter continues with Turkey,” Lt. Col. Mike Andrews told CNN. “We very much regret the current situation facing our F-35 partnership, but the DOD is taking prudent steps to protect the shared investments made in our critical technology.”
Given the international nature of the F-35 and its role to defend allied nations against threats like Russia and China, “The U.S. continues to warn Turkey of the negative consequences of its announced procurement of the S-400. We have, however, been clear that the acquisition of the S-400 is not compatible with the F-35 and Turkey’s continued participation in the F-35 program is at risk,” Andrews said.
While Turkey has been part of NATO and involved in the F-35 program for some time, their willingness to play ball with Russia poses a security risk.
The Turkish government is currently meeting with US officials in an effort to keep the F-35s coming, as Turkish pilots are currently training at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
In Turkish hands, the S-400 missile system could gather technical data on the F-35 and pass that information to Moscow, be it by Turkey or vulnerabilities exploited due to Russian software.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford referred to the quandary as a “tough issue,” and hoped that Turkey will side with the U.S. on the matter.
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