Air Force Receives More F-35s for Turkey; Pilot Training Continues

Minnie Murray
April 6, 2019

Pence told NATO members the United States "will no longer agree to any measures or treaties that force unilateral disarmament upon us", a direct reference to Russia's continued construction and use of missile systems that violate global arms treaties. The U-S vice president said it is deeply troubling that Turkey is moving ahead with the plan, even after Washington offered it the Patriot missile system.

But Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu ruled out a change of heart, saying: "The S-400 deal is a done deal and we will not step back from this". "We went into Afghanistan together, and we agree that we will take any decisions on our future presence together", said the Secretary General.

"Because Turkey is not just an F-35 purchaser, but an industrial partner, blocking delivery of these systems represents a major escalation by the United States as it threatens to impose serious costs on both sides", Hunter said. "We have to shoulder responsibility in order to continue safeguarding it, in our own interest", he said.

Turkey could be sanctioned by Washington under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which rules that any entity doing business with Russia's state and private defense and intelligence sectors risks sanctions.

Speaking at a gathering in Washington to mark Nato's 70th anniversary, Mr Pence said: "Turkey must choose". "We will come to a common strategic understanding".

Officials have said that Turkey's acquisition of both United States and Russian systems could give Moscow access to sophisticated American technology and allow it to find ways to counter the F-35.

Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey remain in talks over the delivery date for S-400 parts, originally slated for May.

Turkey, however, remains a problem, Pence said in some of the administration's clearest remarks on the impasse with Ankara.

But those two warplanes are still in the US, at Luke Air Force Base on the outskirts of Phoenix.

Tensions between the United States and Turkey reached new heights this week after the Pentagon said it would halt the transfer of F-35 equipment to the key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally. Asked if Turkey would abide by the committee if it decided the Americans were correct and that the missile defense system could compromise the F-35, the foreign minister said "of course, it is our proposal". Turkey has shown interest in the Patriot, but not at the expense of abandoning the S-400.

"We must adapt our alliance to confront emerging threats. whether that's Russian aggression, uncontrolled migration, cyber attacks, threats to energy security, Chinese strategic competition, including technology and 5G, and many other issues", Pompeo said. Turkish officials say they expect to install Russia's S-400 missile defense system in July - five months before their two F-35s at Luke Air Force Base are scheduled to arrive.

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