Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says his country is determined to go through with a deal to purchase S-400 missile-defense systems from Russian Federation, despite opposition from Washington.
The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday that Washington had told Turkey that if it buys the S-400 systems, the United States will have to reassess Ankara's participation in the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter program. The US and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have repeatedly complained about the purchase, saying it is not compatible with other allied systems and would represent a security threat.
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The comments come as part of this week's back-and-forth between Ankara and Washington on the issue.
Erdogan said: "The S-400 is a done deal, there can be no turning back".
If they accept the S-400...there's first of all an issue that it's not interoperable with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation systems nor is it interoperable inside of our integrated air missile defense system so that presents one problem.
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Although the USA has already delivered two warplanes under an agreement to sell F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, Congress ordered a delay in future deliveries a year ago. "We have reached an agreement with the Russians", Erdogan said.
As a result of the planned S-400 procurement, the Pentagon launched a large study into whether it would be possible to remove Turkey from the F-35 industrial base. He has previously criticized Ankara for not doing more in the fight against the Islamic State group, and was particularly vocal about Turkey's detention of an American pastor released last year. He hinted at concerns that Turkey's using both the S-400s and the F-35 could provide Russian Federation with valuable information on how to defeat the tech-heavy jet slated to become a signature fighter for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries and their partners.
"If Turkey takes the S-400s there will be grave consequences", acting chief Pentagon spokesperson Charles Summers told reporters Friday, saying it would undermine America's military relationship with Ankara. In January past year, Turkey awarded Eurosam, ASELSAN and Roketsan a contract for the definition study for the future Turkish Long-Range Air and Missile Defense System. S-400 systems will begin to be established in October.
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