US starts withdrawing Turkey from F-35 programme over Russia deal

US starts withdrawing Turkey from F-35 programme over Russia deal

The US Pentagon has notified Turkey that it is cancelling its purchase of F-35 fighter jets if the Turkish government goes ahead with the purchase of a Russia's S-400 missile defence system, Al Jazeera reports.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has sent a letter notifying Turkey that all training of Turkish pilots will also end as of July 31. And all Turkish personnel connected to the F-35 programme must leave the country by the end of that month.

Shanahan's letter explicitly states there will be "no new F-35 training". It says there were 34 students scheduled for F-35 training later this year.

"This training will not occur because we are suspending Turkey from the F-35 programme; there are no longer requirements to gain proficiencies on the systems," according to an attachment to the letter that is titled, "Unwinding Turkey's Participation in the F-35 Program."

In his letter, Shanahan also warned Ankara that its deal with Moscow risked undermining its ties to NATO, hurting the Turkish economy and creating over-dependence on Russia.

"You still have the option to change course on the S-400," Shanahan wrote.

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