‘Cutting Turkey from F-35 program to damage ties’


Turkey is calling on the U.S. to correct its mistake of removing the country from the F-35 fighter jet program, “which will irreparably damage relations”, the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The unilateral move by the U.S. “neither complies with the spirit of alliance nor is it based on legitimate grounds,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It is unfair to remove Turkey, one of the main partners in the F-35 program,” it said, adding claims that the S-400 system will jeopardize sensitive information about F-35 technologies are not valid.

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“Being irresponsive to our proposal to form a working group which will also include NATO on this basis is a clear indication that the U.S. is biased and lacks the will to resolve the matter in good faith,” the ministry said.

The ministry highlighted that the U.S. must show the importance it attaches to Turkey’s friendship not just with rhetoric but with actions, especially in the fight against Daesh, the PKK/PYD/YPG and the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).

Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. announced it is removing Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter program, following through on threats to do so over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-air system.

The Trump administration had threatened to expel Turkey from the F-35 fighter program if it acquired the S-400 from Russia, warning the system could be used by Moscow to covertly attain secret information on the stealth fighter.

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The delivery of S-400 components began last week and is ongoing with 14 shipments of related equipment so far have landed in Turkey over the last six days.

Turkish pilots and maintenance staff who were sent to the U.S. to train on the platform are being notified that they will have to leave the country by the end of the month.