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    Three F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxi after landing at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, April 15, 2019. The F-35A Lightning II is deployed to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility for the first time in U.S. Air Force history.

    Turkish FM Slams US Decision on F-35 Program, Says It Could Curb Strategic Ties - Report

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    US Under Secretary of Defence Ellen Lord said during a Wednesday news briefing that the Pentagon is working to unwind its relationship with Turkey in the international F-35 program following the country's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defence systems, and now expects the process to be completed by March 2020.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Thursday that Washington's decision to unwind Ankara's involvement F-35 program is illegal and called it a mistake, stressing that this move would harm the strategic relationship between two NATO allies, according to a statement, cited by Reuters. Ankara on Thursday called on the US to reconsider its decision.

    "The White House and the US Defence Department announced that our country would be removed from the F-35 program due to our imports of S-400 air defence systems. This unilateral move is not related to the alliance spirit and has no legitimate foundations. It is unfair that Turkey, which is one of the [United States’] main partners on the F-35 program, is excluded from it", the ministry said in the statement.

    "We are calling on the United States to abandon this mistake which might cause the irreparable damage to our strategic relations", the statement added.

    Lord said earlier that the Pentagon would spend between $500-$600 million to shift the supply chain of a Turkish-made part of the F-35 fighter jet, stressing that Ankara's elimination from the program would not affect the overall implementation of the F-35, as the Pentagon has been working to find alternate sources for the parts.

    Earlier on Wednesday, the United States announced that Turkey would no longer be part of its F-35 program after Ankara bought Russian S-400s and made the relationship "impossible".

    Russia and Turkey signed an agreement in December 2017 for the delivery of four S-400 batteries. The United States and NATO member states criticized the agreement and expressed concerns over the S-400 system’s incompatibility with NATO air and missile defence systems.

    The United States claims the S-400 could compromise the F-35 stealth jet project. Washington announced in June that it would not accept Turkish pilots for F-35 training unless Ankara abandoned the S-400 agreement with Russia. But Turkey said the acquisition of the Russian air defence system would go forward and would keep it's $2.5 billion contract with Russia.

    According to media reports, the United States has readied sanctions against Turkey over the procurement of the S-400 systems, and measures are likely to be announced later in July.

    Related:

    Ankara's F-35 Program Expulsion Would Entail Legal Action, Financial Losses - Ex-Minister
    Turkey's Participation in F-35 Programme 'Impossible' Due to Russian S-400 Purchase - White House
    Turkish FM Slams US Decision on F-35 Program, Says It Could Curb Strategic Ties - Report
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    F-35, United States, Turkey
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