US Kicks Out Turkey from F-35 Program
IndraStra Global

US Kicks Out Turkey from F-35 Program

By IndraStra Global News Team


Image Attribute: A file image of  F-35A Lighting II / Source": USAF/DoD

On July 17, 2019,  US President Donald Trump has announced that the US would not sell the F-35 fighter jets to Turkey after Ankara purchased the S-400 missile defense system from sanctions-hit Russia. The F-35 is stealth, fifth-generation, multirole combat aircraft, designed for ground-attack and air-superiority missions. 

Turkey, a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) received the first batch of S-400 air defense system on July 12 (last Friday) despite repeated warnings from the US against the purchase. Three Antonov An-124 cargo planes of the Russian air force landed at Ankara’s Mürted Air Base with the first batch of S-400 components — "sealing Turkey's deal with Russia, which Washington had struggled for months to prevent."

Image Attribute: A handout photograph was taken and released on July 12, 2019, by the Turkish Defence Ministry (Millî Savunma Bakanlığı) shows a Russian military cargo plane carrying S-400 missile defense system from Russia to the Mürted airbase.

Image Attribute: A handout photograph was taken and released on July 12, 2019, by the Turkish Defence Ministry (Millî Savunma Bakanlığı) shows a Russian military cargo plane carrying S-400 missile defense system from Russia to the Mürted airbase.

Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment at the Pentagon said, "The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the program." 

In response, Turkey's foreign ministry said the move was unfair and could affect relations between the two countries. "We invite the United States to return from this mistake which would open irreparable wounds in strategic relations," the ministry said after the Pentagon's announcement. 

The decision by the Trump Administration against a major NATO ally could be an indication of the things to come for India as it has also signed up with Russia (October 2018) to buy the S-400 missile defense system (at a cost of ₹40,000 crore) against the advice of the US.

Under current US laws, any country purchasing major defense equipment from Russia could be subject to American sanctions through Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 (CAATSA). CAATSA came into effect on August 2, 2017, when President Trump signed it and paved the way for tougher sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.


Video Attribute: Russia's Ministry of Defence (MoD) releases footage of S-400 components’ delivery to Turkey

President Trump declined to criticize Turkey's acquisition of the S-400s, calling it's a "complex situation" and expressed his displeasure over how the entire issue was handled by the previous administration of President Barack Obama. 

"The Obama administration would not sell them the Patriot missiles... They would not sell them under any circumstance. When he (Erdogan) made a deal with another country, Russia, to buy their system that he didn't even want, and then all of a sudden, we say we'll now sell you the Patriot," Trump said. 

Initially, in 2009, when Turkey sought to buy the American Patriot missile defense system (a US$7.8bn deal was tentatively approved by the Obama administration) — it wanted to boost its own technology base, insisted on producing some of the system components itself as part of the deal. This particularly balked Washington at that time.