Turkey “looks poised to let Russia destroy or deeply compromise the F-35 program from within” by operating Russian-made S-400 missile systems and the advanced US fighter jets at the same time, Business Insider reports.
The publication referred in this vein to General Curtis Scaparrotti, head of the US European Command, who noted that he, as a military officer, doesn't advise allowing the US jets to be used in countries that operate Russian military systems, especially air defence systems.
“If they accept the S-400 and establish it within Turkey, there is an issue […] that has to do with the F-35. It presents a problem to all of our aircraft, but specifically the F-35. My best military advice would be that we don't then follow through with the F-35, flying it or working with an ally that's working with Russian systems, particularly air-defence systems, with what I would say is probably one of most advanced technological capabilities," Scaparrotti said.
The remarks followed a statement by General Tod Wolters, NATO allied air commander, who argued that the S-400’s capabilities allow the missile system to better understand the capabilities of the F-35 warplanes, which he said is "certainly not to the advantage of the coalition".
Wolters added that NATO is concerned about “how much, for how long, and how close” the F-35 would operate near the S-400s.
“All those would have to be determined. We do know for right now it is a challenge," he pointed out.
Retired US Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula, for his part, told Business Insider the S-400s systems’ integration in Turkey’s air defences could lead to “technology transfer and possible compromises of F-35 advantages to the S-400”.
Washington has repeatedly threatened to slap sanctions on Ankara under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if Turkey buys Russia’s S-400s – something that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said was a “done deal” which cannot be cancelled.
Ankara slammed Washington's move, noting that it had fulfilled all its obligations for F-35 supplies and that there are no reasons to halt the shipments to the country.
The Turkish government signed a loan agreement with Moscow on the deliveries of the Russian-made S-400s to Turkey in December 2017, hurting relations with Washington.