Will US expel Turkey from F-35 Program?
The US Defense Department is preparing for the final exclusion of Turkey from the program to create the newest American F-35 bomber fighters, the acting Defense Minister Patrick Shanahan said, specifying that this measure is due to the purchase of the Russian anti-aircraft missile systems S-400 by Ankara.
According to him, he held a meeting with the direction board of the US military-industrial corporation Lockheed Martin and the United Technologies company. The parties discussed in detail the consequences of Turkey’s possible exclusion from the F-35 program. "If we cannot find a solution to the current situation, then we need to carry out our plans in terms of their progress," TASS quotes Shanahan as saying with a reference to the transcript of the conversation published by the Pentagon.
The acting Defence Minister stressed that it is necessary to make sure that the plan is effective. “I need plans that don't have a single weak point, with a zero risk of failure, so that we can smoothly deliver F-35 to our other customers,” he stressed.
In addition, Shanahan noted that during the meeting with the management of the companies he understood where the risk level is high. "Now it is necessary to make decisions to reduce this risk, but at the same time, we continue the negotiations with Turkey," the acting Defence Minister noted.
He stressed that the Turkish side is still the US strategic partner. "In my opinion, today the relations between Turkey and the United States are better than two or four months ago, simply because of the frequency of contacts," he explained, reiterating that the purchase of S-400 by Ankara will lead to the exclusion of Turkey from the F-35 program.
Shanahan also confirmed the Pentagon’s position on impossibility of the simultaneous use of the Russian S-400 and the American F-35 systems.