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‘Not part of the deal’: Turks say US can’t exclude them from F-35 program

‘Not part of the deal’: Turks say US can’t exclude them from F-35 program
The United States cannot force Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program without the consent of other parties, as this is prohibited by the program agreement, Turkey’s head of defense industries has warned.

The F-35 arrangement between nine states, including the US and Turkey, does not allow a single party to remove another from the project, President of Defense Industries Ismail Demir told Reuters on Friday.

“This isn’t part of the agreement, this isn’t something you can just say, ‘I exclude you’ about,” Demir said. “The F-35 project is a partnership and nowhere in the agreement does it allow a unilateral removal of one country.”

No single country can say they don’t want you and then remove you from the program.

Washington has threatened to exclude Ankara from the multi-billion-dollar fighter jet program over the Turkish plans to purchase Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, which US officials say are not compatible with NATO defense infrastructure and would “compromise” other systems, including the F-35.

Also on rt.com We will take ‘reciprocal steps’: Turkish FM warns US against any penalties for buying S-400

The White House said earlier this month it was considering sanctions if Turkey went through with the S-400 deal. Washington also canceled training for Turkish pilots learning to fly the aircraft at US air bases. Because Turkey produces some of the parts for the fighter, the Pentagon says it has already begun to line up alternative manufacturers.

Undeterred, Ankara has responded that it would make the S-400 purchase this summer, and vowed to retaliate against any US sanctions.

Also on rt.com Turkish pilots grounded from F-35 training as Ankara refuses to ditch S-400 – Pentagon

Developed by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, the F-35 is jointly produced by nine countries – the US, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Australia.

The fifth-generation stealth fighter program, whose lifetime price tag may be as high as $1.5 trillion, was supposed to outmatch all competitors. In reality, it has been plagued by a long list of technical problems that show no sign of being resolved any time soon.

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