Turkey officially kicked out of F-35 program

Military vehicles and equipment parts of the S-400 air defense systems are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft at Murted military airport in Ankara Turkey Friday

Military vehicles and equipment parts of the S-400 air defense systems are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft at Murted military airport in Ankara Turkey Friday

The US has repeatedly threatened to remove Turkey from the worldwide consortium building the F-35 and block deliveries of the jets Ankara has bought and paid for, if the planned purchase of the Russian missiles went ahead.

The Russian-made missile defense system is not compatible with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Pentagon is concerned it could be used by Moscow to acquire critical knowledge of the F-35's unique radar signature, which could make it easier to track.

Turkey and the USA are key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies - but Ankara has also been establishing closer links with Russian Federation.

"Turkey remains a close North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ally, and our military-to-military relationship remains strong", said Ellen Lord, under secretary of defense overseeing acquisitions.

"Turkey's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible", the White House statement read.

The White House sought to strike a conciliatory tone, however, calling Ankara a "longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years", even if the S-400 purchase "undermines the commitments" of NATO to not buy Russian weapons.

US President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that the S-400 purchase means Turkey will not be allowed to purchase any F-35 planes.

Grisham acknowledged that the U.S. "still greatly values our strategic relationship with Turkey" and that the relationship extends far beyond the F-35.

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Lord said it will require between $500-$600 million in nonrecurring engineering costs to move the production from Turkey to the U.S. She also said details are still being worked through which partners, if any, would be willing to buy the F-35s already in production for Turkey.

"The United States still greatly values our strategic relationship with Turkey", Grisham said in a statement.

But Turkey has also pursued an increasingly independent defence policy amid strained ties with the USA and Europe. "Much of the F-35′s strength lies in its stealth capabilities, so the ability to detect those capabilities would jeopardize the long term security of the F-35 program".

The White House, however, sought to downplay the effects of the decision on the United States relationship with Turkey, saying that Washington still "greatly values" its strategic relationship with Ankara.

In a speech on July 15 (the third anniversary of the coup attempt), Erdoğan welcomed the first components of S-400 systems to Turkey, saying that "the S-400s are the strongest defense system against those who want to attack our country".

Turkey has the second-largest army in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, a 29-member military alliance. But Erdoğan has been steadily marching away from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation since the July 2016 coup attempt against his government.

Media captionNato explained in 80 seconds How does the S-400 work?

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