Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has said that Turkey would use the S-400 air defense missiles only when “needed.”
“This defense system would be used when needed in the face of threats and dangers. If there is no attempt to attack Turkey, it would not be harmful to anyone,” Akar told reporters in the capital Ankara on Feb. 26.
He also said that the U.S.' decision to expel Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program and impose sanctions is “not in line with the spirit of alliance.”
Akar's comments came after the Pentagon has reiterated its call on Turkey to not retain Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, stressing that they're incompatible with the F-35 fighter jets.
"There's been no change to the administration's policy with respect to the F-35 and the S-400," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Feb. 23.
Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO's broader defense systems. Turkey rejects this, saying S-400s will not be integrated into NATO and purchasing them was a necessity as it was unable to procure air defense systems from any NATO ally on satisfactory terms.