Washington to Ankara: Give up S-400s and get the F-35s
The members of a delegation from the United States Congresg, who visited Turkey and met with their Turkish parliament counterparts on Aug. 27, have urged Ankara to give up purchasing S-400 missile systems from Russia to receive the F-35 fighter jets.
A three-member delegation headed by Congressman Michael Turner, a member of NATO Parliamentarian Assembly, first visited İncirlik Airbase in southern Adana province. The delegation later met with Turkish parliamentarians and discussed the issues of Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 systems and delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
The congressmen urged Ankara to abandon procurement of S-400 systems to guarantee the delivery of the F-35s, while the Turkish side stressed further cooperation against the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
The U.S. Congress recently passed legislation threatening to halt U.S. sales of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, despite signed contracts between the countries over the latter’s planned acquisition of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, and the ramifications for the U.S. industrial base if Turkey is dropped from the international F-35 program.
Criticizing the U.S. for trying to force Turkey not to purchase the S-400 air defense system from Russia, Ankara recalls that Turkey had been trying to purchase the Patriot air defense system from the U.S., but the missiles have never been sold to Ankara when they were needed the most.
Turkey has been in the F-35 program since 1999. The Turkish defense industry has taken an active role in the production of aircraft. Alp Aviation, AYESAS, Kale Aviation, Kale Pratt & Whitney and Turkish Aerospace Industries have been producing parts for the first F-35fighter jet. Turkey plans to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets in the coming years.
The row over the F-35s came at a time when the ties between the two countries were strained over the dention in turkey of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson.
Brunson was indicted on charges of having links with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and FETÖ. He was transferred to house arrest on July 25.
Washington on Aug. 1 announced sanctions against Turkey’s Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül and Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Aug. 1 over the imprisonment of Brunson, drawing Ankara’s ire.