June 25, 2019– Mary Greeley News – BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The United States will stop Turkish forces flying and developing its F-35 stealth jets if Ankara goes ahead with the purchase of a Russian air defense system, the U.S. envoy to NATO said on Tuesday.
Washington and its allies have urged fellow NATO member Ankara not to install the S-400 system, saying that would let the technology learn how to recognize the F-35s, which are built to avoid tracking by enemy radars and heat sensors.
But Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan vowed anew on Tuesday to press on with the S-400 purchase despite allies’ concerns.
“We will hopefully start to receive the S-400 systems we purchased from Russia next month,” Erdogan told members of his AK Party in parliament. “Turkey is not a country that needs to seek permission or bow to pressures. The S-400s are directly linked to our sovereignty and we will not take a step back.”
Turkey has said its S-400 deal with Russia is final, exacerbating a diplomatic rift with the United States already widening over conflicting strategy in Syria, Iran sanctions and the detention of U.S. consular staff.
“Everything indicates that Russia is going to deliver the system to Turkey and that will have consequences,” Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, said in Brussels.
“There will be a disassociation with the F-35 system, we cannot have the F-35 affected or destabilized by having this Russian system in the alliance,” she told reporters.
Hutchison went on to say that even though Turkey is an important partner in the production of parts of the fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays for F-35 warplanes, security concerns about Russia are paramount.
“So many of us have tried to dissuade Turkey,” she asserted.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would take delivery of Russian S-400 missile defense systems in July.
“The issue of S-400 is an issue directly related to our sovereignty and we will not backtrack from that,” Erdogan said in a televised speech.
“God willing, the delivery of the S-400 will start next month. In order to meet its security needs, Turkey … does not need to get permission, let alone bow to pressure,” he said.
The remarks came a day after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara does not fear US sanctions over S-400 deal.
The United States says the jets, made by Lockheed Martin Corp., give NATO forces a number of technological advantages in the air, including the ability to disrupt enemy communications networks and navigation signals.
“No matter what sanctions there may be and which statement comes from the United States, we have already bought the S-400,” Cavusoglu told reporters in Ankara on Monday following a meeting with his Rwandan counterpart Richard Sezibera.
“Now we are talking about when the S-400 will be delivered to Turkey. It is not possible for us to give up on the purchase of the S-400,” he added.
Citing three unnamed people familiar with the matter, English-language Bloomberg television news network, reported on June 19 that US President Donald Trump’s administration is weighing three packages of sanctions against Turkey over S-400 purchase.
The sources underlined that the most severe package under discussion between officials at the National Security Council and the State and Treasury departments would all but cripple Turkey’s troubled economy, and would be in addition to Ankara’s exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet program.
The sanctions proposal with the most support would target several companies in Turkey’s key defense sector under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
The US Congress passed the CAATSA against Russia in August 2017 over allegations of interfering in the 2016 presidential election. The law, among other things, imposes sanctions on countries and companies that engage in contracts to purchase weaponry from Russia.
Turkey warns that it will “reciprocal steps” if the US imposes sanctions on Ankara over its purchase of Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems.
The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
The United States offered Turkey the more expensive Patriot anti-missile defense system, and then with a discount, but there were issues with the U.S. ability to deliver the Patriots quickly. Turkey also says that NATO allies have not helped it during times of heightened security concerns, and it therefore had to seek alternatives, and Russia came into the picture.
Erdogan is expected to discuss the issue with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Japan later this week. One senior NATO diplomat said that was probably the last chance of finding a solution.
Mary Greeley News
credit: In part with https://www.presstv.com/Detail/2019/06/25/599412/Turkey-will-lose-F35-warplane-if-S400-deal-goes-ahead-US-NATO-envoy