09:14 GMT14 August 2020
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    The US has repeatedly slammed Turkey for its planned acquisition of Russian-made S-400 missile systems, as Washington claims this could pose a threat to NATO military hardware. The White House also threatened to slap tough sanctions on Ankara, which in turn underscored its commitment to the S-400 deal with Russia.

    The US will stop its manufacturing support for F-35 fighter jets in Turkey if Ankara continues to pursue plans to acquire Russian long-range S-400 surface-to-air missile systems,  acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters on Friday.

    “If Turkey decides that the S-400 is a decision they want to go forward with, then we have to move work out of Turkey”, he warned.

    READ MORE: Turkey Hints It May Find Russian Substitute for F-35 Jets If US Halts Deliveries

    Shanahan pledged to discuss options with representatives of US aerospace manufacturers Lockheed Martin and United Technologies should Turkey go ahead with plans to purchase S-400s.

    The statement comes as House Armed Services Committee members, including Democratic Congressman John Garamendi, announced a bill to block the sale of the F-35 warplanes to Turkey if it goes ahead with its push to buy the Russian air defences.

    “Operating the S-400 alongside the F-35 would compromise the aircraft and its sensitive technology, impact interoperability among NATO allies, and most importantly pose serious risk to our shared defence and security”, Garamendi said in a statement.

    READ MORE: Turkish Pilots Continue F-35 Training Despite US Halting Deliveries – Report

    He described the bill as a document which “sends a strong and important message to Turkey — proceeding with the S-400 is unacceptable and will not be tolerated”.

    This comes amid ongoing tension between the US and Turkey over Ankara inking a loan agreement for the supply of S-400 systems with Russia in December 2017.

    Washington is worried that the S-400’s radars will be able to learn how to spot F-35 stealth jets, which were originally scheduled for shipment to Turkey in 2019.

    READ MORE: Turkish FM: S-400 Systems Acquired by Turkey Pose No Threat to F-35 Fighter Jets

    The US, since then, has threatened to freeze the fighter jets’ delivery to Turkey if it doesn't drop the S-400 deal. Ankara, meanwhile, has demanded a timely delivery of the F-35s from the US, warning that the F-35 programme will be “damaged” if Washington excludes Turkey.

    Ankara, which has repeatedly signalled its commitment to the S-400 deal, insists that the S-400s are not a threat to the security of NATO, the US or the F-35 in any way. Despite this, Washington moved to stop deliveries of F-35 fighter jet parts to Turkey in early April.


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    missile systems, support, purchase, sanctions, S-400, F-35, NATO, Patrick Shanahan, Turkey, United States
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