US defense secretary unveils plans to phase Turkey out of F-35 program

The performing head of the Pentagon has despatched a letter to the Turkish defense minister, detailing the US plan to exclude Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet program over its acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense methods.

Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has knowledgeable his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, how the US might be extracting Turkey, a serious companion and sole provider of dozens of elements for F-35 jets, from the program.

The letter dated June 6 incorporates an ‘Unwinding Turkey’s Participation within the F-35’ chart, in accordance to which Turkey should stop all operations associated to the program by July 31. That consists of coaching of its pilots, who will be allowed to stay within the US up to that date. Past the deadline, they might be barred from coming into Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the place the coaching is happening, and their invites rescinded. Currently, 42 Turkish trainees are stationed in the bases.

Confirming earlier media reviews, Shanahan wrote that the US won’t settle for any new pilots, “because we are suspending Turkey from the F-35 program.”

Turkey won’t be invited to the annual F-35 CEO roundtable on June 12 and won’t get a scheduled manufacturing, sustainment, and follow-on improvement replace on the program. The US will “suspend indefinitely” deliveries of materials and gear to Turkey throughout the scope of the program.

Turkey’s roadmap out of the F-35 mission comes proper after Russian state defense company Rostec introduced on Friday that the primary S-400 anti-air missile system batteries might be arriving in Turkey in two months, forward of the preliminary schedule.

Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov indicated that Russia had already accomplished coaching of the Turkish specialists to man the cutting-edge surface-to-air defense complexes. 

The buy of the Russian-made methods has derailed Turkey’s plans to purchase 100 F-35 jets. Washington considers the presence of the S-400s in Turkey to be a safety risk to the F-35s and NATO as a complete.

In his letter to the Turkish official, Shanahan reiterates the ultimatum, noting that Turkey “will not receive the F-35 if… it takes delivery of the S-400.” In addition to repeating claims that S-400s would compromise NATO interoperability and the safety of the F-35 warplanes, Shanahan says the deal, struck between Ankara and Moscow in 2017, will “lead to Turkish strategic and economic over-dependence on Russia,” presumably forcing the US out of that area of interest.

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