US official warns Turkey against purchase of S-400 from Russia
A senior State Department official warned Turkey that Washington might not hand over the F-35 fifth-generation F-35 fighters if Ankara goes ahead with its planned purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia, Al-Manar TV reported.
Testifying before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Wess Mitchell, US assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said that the handover of F-35s to America’s foreign partners is normally followed by a lengthy period of training of pilots of the countries that the planes are going to.
“We’ve been very clear that across the board, an acquisition of S-400 will inevitably affect the prospects for Turkish military-industrial cooperation with the United States, including F-35,” Mitchell told a Senate foreign relations subcommittee hearing on US relations with Europe.
When asked to specify whether Ankara had already received its first two F-35s, Mitchell said that the matter was still at a preparatory stage. “We believe that we have the existing legal authorities that would allow us to withhold transfer under certain circumstances, including national security concerns,” Mitchell emphasized.
He added that under the circumstances, the US still has the time and ability to guarantee that Turkey will not move ahead with the purchase ofS-400 missiles from Russia before it decides to acquire the F-35s.