The U.S. Air Force is officially purchasing eight F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter jets that were initially intended for Turkey prior to its removal from the joint strike fighter program. The U.S. removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program in July 2019 over Ankara's decision to buy Russian-made S-400 air defense systems.
Four U.S. senators have penned a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper saying that Turkey's expulsion from the F-35 supply chain needs to be expedited, regardless of what the cost is. They said that the Defense Department's delay regarding the matter “has undermined the effectiveness of our clear message to the Turks.”
Russia says Turkey cannot re-export S-400 air defense systems after US senator’s proposal to buy them
Russia has said that Turkey cannot re-export Russian-made S-400 air defense missile systems without Moscow's permission. The statement came after U.S. Senator John Thune prepared a proposal to buy the S-400s from Turkey in a bid to overcome the impasse between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s participation in a program to produce F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter jets.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov has said that Turkey has the right to vie for a new agreement on an additional supply of S-400 missile defense systems and Russia will subsequently be ready to deliver. "They [Turkey] have the right to do so, if they express a desire, we will seal [the deal]," Borisov said.
The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on June 11 authorized the U.S. Air Force to modify six F-35s fighter jets that were sold to Turkey but will be used for the U.S. military. The jets were never delivered to Turkish soil because of a disagreement over Ankara’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, which the Pentagon said was “incompatible” with the stealthy F-35 jets.
The head of the Russian Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, Dmitry Shugayev, said that Moscow is awaiting Ankara's final decision on the delivery of the second batch of Russia's S-400 missile defense systems. "Dialogue on the deliveries of the second regimental batch of the S-400 are on quite an advanced stage, and we await the final decision of the Turkish side," he said.
Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın has said that Ankara is loyal to its agreement with Russia on the S-400 missile defense systems, adding that there were delays because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. "We're loyal to our agreement on S-400s just like we were previously," Kalın said in an interview on May 26, adding that Turkey is open to negotiations with the United States if it agrees to send Patriot missiles.
Turkey and Russia are still negotiating the terms for delivery of a second consignment of S-400 advanced missile defenses, the head of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said. “The sale of a new batch of S-400s to Turkey is still on our agenda; it did not fall of our agenda. We are trying to agree on the system's scope, the delivery date and other conditions,” Dmitry Shugaev was quoted as saying by Sputnik on May 7.
Faruk Loğoğlu writes: Two plane-loads of medical supplies and a sweetener letter cannot and should not be expected to cure the problem-ridden state of Turkish-American relations. It certainly will not be enough to open the doors of the Federal Reserve to the Central Bank of Turkey. The resolution of the S-400 issue, for better or worse, is the password for any progress.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said that the U.S. continues to object "strenuously" to Turkey's purchase of Russian missile defense systems and is "deeply concerned" with reports that Ankara is continuing its efforts to make the weapons operational. "We are confident that President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and his senior officials understand our position," Ortagus said.
Turkey’s plans to switch on its new Russian S-400 air defense systems have been delayed by the coronavirus outbreak but it does not intend to reverse the decision, a senior Turkish official told Reuters. “There is no going back on the decision to activate the S-400s (but) due to COVID-19 … the plan for them to be ready in April will be delayed,” the official reportedly said.
Jonathan Hoffman, chief Pentagon spokesman, said on March 10 that Turkey will not receive Patriot air defense systems unless it returns the already purchased S-400 systems back to Russia, contradicting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's earlier remark that the U.S. would reconsider selling the Patriot batteries as long as the S-400s did not become operational.
U.S. special representative for Syria James Jeffrey did not rule out supplying Turkey with Patriot missile systems for the conflict in Syria's Idlib, but said that Ankara had to "clarify" its position on the rival Russian S-400s.
The United States has asked Ankara to guarantee that it will not activate S-400 missile defense systems that it purchased from Russia to supply Patriot batteries, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 10. "They [the U.S.] softened significantly on this S-400 issue. They are now at the point of 'promise us you won't make the S-400s operational,'" he added.
Turkey will activate S-400 missile defense systems that it purchased from Russia in April, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said, adding that he had also asked for U.S. Patriot systems. Commenting on the ceasefire in Idlib, Erdoğan said that Turkey's military observation posts in the province will retain their current status, adding the agreement laid the groundwork for the normalization of the region.