F-35 program became domestic issue of US, says Turkish presidential spokesperson
The dispute between Turkey and the United States over the F-35 jets is not a technical or defense matter anymore, but rather an issue of U.S. domestic politics, the Turkish presidential spokesperson has said.
Speaking at a press conference after the cabinet meeting at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, İbrahim Kalın said the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump seems to be “stuck” due to the “pressures” from the Congress.
Kalın also said that Turkey has offered the U.S. to establish a technical commission. He also conveyed that the U.S. is concerned about Ankara’s S-400 purchase to harm the F-35 program or NATO’s defense system.
U.S. lawmakers have said they are considering purchasing F-35A fighter jets under Turkish inventory by American Air Forces due to Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian missile system.
The National Defense Authorization Act for the 2020 fiscal year, a joint defense budget prepared by the Senate and the House of Representatives released on Dec. 9, proposes the allocation of a $440 million fund for the Pentagon to purchase F-35 aircrafts ordered by Turkey, as part of the modernization of national defense.
Kalın said he and U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien tackled this issue “in detail.” Their meeting was followed by the high-level talks of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his U.S. counterpart. The issue was not discussed in detail during the presidents’ meeting, Kalın said.
“We believe that there is no unilateral statement that will remove us from the F-35 program and also lead to CAATSA [Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act] sanctions,” he said.
The spokesperson also underlined that the issue of the F-35 program is no longer a technical one or concerning the defense industry.
“It has completely become an issue of U.S. domestic policies,” he said.
Kalın also said that the agreement to buy S-400s was hammered with Russia in April 2017 and at that time “CAATSA was out of the question.”
“We are closely following the process in Congress. This will not have an impact on our S-400s’ purchase or usage,” he said.
Ankara’s S-400 process will continue regardless, he added.