Turkey removed from F-35 program after buying Russian missiles

World Today

Turkey says the United States’ latest action lacks “legitimate justification”

It comes after Ankara was expelled from the NATO F-35 fighter jet program after its purchase of a Russian missile system.

The U.S. said the possibility of Russia gathering intelligence information jeopardizes the F-35.

CGTN’s Michal Bardavid reports.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry stated that the United States decision to suspend Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program due to its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system was “unfair.”

Ankara has called on Washington to correct its mistake, which Ankara said will cause “irreparable wounds” to Turkish-U.S. relations.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry also said that the unilateral step contradicts with the spirit of alliance and does not rely on any legitimate justification

Turkey has been part of the F-35 program since it was launched over 25 years ago. It’s also part of the supply chain and over 900 fighter jet parts are produced by Turkish companies, which will now be cut off from the program.

Pentagon officials stated that F-35 partners were aligned in the decision to suspend Turkey and that preparation had been for a transition in the supply chain.

“To bridge the gap initially to mitigate Turkey’s removal, the program will use primarily U.S. sources for Turkey’s work share” Ellen Lord, U.S. undersecretary for defense said. “But this will gradually open up to program partners for first, second and third sources. Because of this planning Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program will have minimal impact on the larger F-35 partnership.”

The U.S. is concerned Russia’s S-400 air and defense system will compromise the F-35 program and is expected to impose economic sanctions on Turkey within the scope of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump has been reluctant to impose sanctions and emphasized it was a “tough situation,” and isn’t looking to impose sanctions, “right now.” Trump blamed the Obama administration for not selling Turkey the Patriot missile system. The White House has also stated that military cooperation with Turkey remains strong and will continue.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also expressed concern over Turkey’s decision to buy the Russian system yet also stated that “Turkey’s contribution to NATO runs much deeper and much broader than the F-35.”