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16 Jul, 2019 18:08

US will not sell F-35 fighter jets to Turkey after its Russian missile defense purchase – Trump

US will not sell F-35 fighter jets to Turkey after its Russian missile defense purchase –  Trump

President Donald Trump has said Washington will not sell Turkey its next-generation F-35 jet fighter, after Turkey took delivery of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system. Turkey has been a partner in the F-35 program.

“The situation with Turkey is very complex and tough. We are in contact with Turkish officials,” Trump said. US officials had long threatened to exclude Turkey from the F-35 program, claiming that operating the jet alongside the S-400 would allow Moscow to learn its secrets.

As Trump made the announcement to reporters on Tuesday, his nominee for Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, reiterated the president’s position during his Senate confirmation hearing. Turkey “can either have the S-400 or...the F-35,” Esper said. “You cannot have both.”

Also on rt.com Erdogan hails Russian S-400 delivery, wants to ‘go much further’ and make weapons with Russia

At a speech in Ankara one day earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hailed the arrival of his newly acquired S-400 batteries from Russia. Erdogan promised to go “much further” and set up “joint production with Russia” in future.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Erdogan described his decision to buy the Russian missile system as one he was forced to make. During the tenure of the Obama administration, Ankara had been in negotiation with Washington with a view to purchasing American-made Patriot missiles instead, until Washington pulled the plug when Erdogan’s government insisted that the missile deal include a transfer of technology.

Trump expressed sympathy for Erdogan’s position on Tuesday. “It’s not really fair” on Turkey, he said. “With all of that being said, we’re working through it. We’ll see what happens, but it’s not really fair.”

Purchasing the S-400 also opens Turkey up to sanctions under CAATSA, a 2017 act that can be used to penalize America’s allies for “transactions” with the Russian defense industry. However, no penalties have yet been announced, with government sources telling Bloomberg that the US would wait until Monday’s anniversary of the failed 2016 coup against Erdogan passed before applying them.

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