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Turkey can have either F-35 or S-400, 'not both': US Defense Secretary

Turkey can have either F-35 or S-400, 'not both': US Defense Secretary
Turkey will not be able to purchase US-made F-35 fighter jets as long as the Russian S-400 air missile defense system is in use in the country, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said late on Wednesday, as Ankara continues to pursue stronger military ties with Russia. 

Esper was asked whether Turkey could still purchase the F-35 stealth warplane at a joint press conference with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, offering a categorically negative response.



"No, not in my book. I have been very clear in my both public comments and privately with my Turkish counterpart. It is the F-35 or the S-400. It is not both," he responded.



Turkey must remove the S-400 system from the country for the US to even “consider” selling Ankara F-35 warplanes, he added. 

Turkey joined the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program for the US and its allies in 2002, and signed a memorandum of understanding five years later for its involvement in the production of the stealth warplanes.
 


F-35s for Turkey were to be produced by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). However, the country was removed from the program in mid-July after it received the first batch of S-400 system components from Russia.
 
The US repeatedly voiced opposition to Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400 air defense system, saying it was incompatible with NATO hardware.
 
Washington wanted Turkey to instead acquire the American equivalent to the S-400, the Patriot air missile defense system. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he had sought to acquire the Patriot system, but was refused its purchase by the Obama administration, leading him to turn to Russia for S-400 acquisition instead.

On the eve of Turkey receiving its first S-400 shipment, the US military refused to train future Turkish F-35 pilots at an Air Force base in Arizona.



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