17:33 GMT14 August 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Any US attempt to expel Turkey from the F-35 jet program over the purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defence systems will inevitably entail legal action and seriously shoot up the price of the project, former Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis told Sputnik.

    According to the former foreign minister, Turkey has ordered 116 F-35s. Four of them have been already delivered to the Turkish Air Force inventory, but are still being held in the United States.

    "The cancellation of their contracts will involve legal actions and cause considerable increases in the cost of each aircraft and delays in the completion of the project … I presume that both the US authorities and Lockheed, the mother company for the manufacture of F-35s in the US, will take all these factors into account," Yakis said.

    He recalled that Turkey was, after all, an important financial and manufacturing partner of the F-35 project.

    "Turkey is a member of a consortium that manufactures the F-35s. Some 844 different components of the aircraft are manufactured by the Turkish companies. Turkey invested around $1.2 billion for it. For some of these components, the Turkish companies are the sole manufacturer," Yakis noted.

    Yakis also opined that if the existing speculations on possible weaknesses of F-35s turned out to be true, "it would be good [for Turkey] not to receive them."

    He, however, expressed belief that the US protests and threats would ultimately "subside one way or another" after Turkey showed that it would "not step back."

    On Friday, the Turkish Defence Ministry announced the beginning of S-400 deliveries, with the first batch of air defence components shipped to the country the same day. As of today, as many as 11 aircraft carrying S-400 parts have already arrived in Turkey. The process, meanwhile, draws the ire of the United States, which claims that S-400s are incompatible with NATO's air defence systems and may compromise operations of the F-35 jet.

    According to media reports, the United States is set to unveil sanctions on Ankara over the deal later in the week. Washington, notably, previously threatened to remove Turkey from the F-35 program.

    Moscow and Ankara signed a loan agreement for the delivery of S-400 systems in December 2017. Despite the US pressure, Turkey refused to reverse the contract, saying it was a done deal vital for national defence.

    The S-400 Triumph (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) is Russia's next-generation mobile surface-to-air missile system that carries three different types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at a short- to the extremely-long range. It integrates a multifunctional radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and a command and control centre. 

    financial loss, legal action, F-35, Turkey
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