US gives Turkey until end of July to backtrack on Russian missile defence deal

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The United States on June 8 Friday gave Turkey time until the end of July to stop it’s purchase of a significant Russian missile defense system which Washington considers incapable with Ankara’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program. Ellen Lord the US under secretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment told reporters on Friday that Washington was giving Ankara until 31 July to meet its demands AFP reported. If by July 31 Turkey does not renounce the S-400 system Turkish pilots training in the United States on the F-35 will be expelled and agreements with Turkish firms subcontracted for manufacturing the F-35 stealth warplane will be cancelled Ellen Lord undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment told the reporters.

US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he had sent a letter to his Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar on Friday June 7 informing him of Washington’s decision. The US offer for the Patriots was very competitive Patrick Shanahan told reporters. Patrick Shanahan’s letter explicitly states there will be “no new F-35 training” the news agency said. Ellen Lord said “the deadline will allow sufficient time for Turkish personnel associated with the F-35 program to be reassigned and depart the United States to facilitate an orderly cessation of Turkish participation.”

She explained the United States statement of terms by the fact that Turkey a NATO ally of the United States had already sent it’s personnel to Russia to start training with the S-400. Washington says “the system poses a threat to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighters, and Ankara cannot have both”. “This training will not occur because we are suspending Turkey from the F-35 program; there are no longer requirements to gain proficiencies on the systems,” reads an attachment to Patrick Shanahan’s letter that is titled, “Unwinding Turkey’s Participation in the F-35 Program”. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country was “determined” to proceed with the Russia deal.

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United States officials have said they expected Turkey to choose for the American Patriot air defense system instead, disagreeing that would allow the F-35 program to continue.Turkey plans to buy 100 United States F-35s and it’s defense industry has invested majorly in the warplanes production.
Tayyip Erdogan said he told the United States that Ankara would take steps to buy Patriots only if Washington’s terms of delivery were as positive as Moscow’s. “If Turkey were removed from the F-35 programme it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history of the relationship between the two allies” experts said. “If Turkey does not renounce the deal with Russia by July 31, Turkish companies which make 937 different parts of the F-35 will be granted no further subcontracts with their roles reassigned to other firms” Ellen Lord said.

She also said “Aeronautics giant Lockheed Martin and engine maker Pratt & Whitney have already started to seek new suppliers although Turkish companies will be able to finish orders that were already in the works.” Minister of Defence Hulusi Akar said on 22 May that Turkish military personnel were receiving training in Russia on how to use the S-400 and that Russian personnel may come to Turkey. Erdogan said on Tuesday that it was “out of the question” for Turkey to back away from its deal with.”Everything is on track with the Turks. I hope that we will begin to deliver in about two months,” Sergei Chemezov told NTV channel, AFP reported, citing Russian agencies. “The credit money has been spent, the technology was produced and we completed training of all the military personnel,” Chemezov said. Launched in the 1990s the F-35 is the most expensive program in the history of the Unites States military. The Pentagon estimates it’s cost at $400 billion with an aim of manufacturing nearly around 2500 planes in the decades to come. Erdogan said that the US had not put forward “an offer as good as the S-400s.”

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