The United States on Wednesday announced that Turkey would no longer participate in the F-35 fighter jet program, citing Ankara’s acquisition of the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.
The White House issued a statement Wednesday confirming the move, which Washington had threatened for months.
“Unfortunately, Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” the White House statement read. “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”
“Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems," the statement continued.
Turkey's removal from the program is expected to happen by next year, said Ellen Lord, the US undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
“We are proceeding with a very orderly wind-down by March 2020," said Lord. "This is a specific response to a specific action.”
On Thursday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said that Washington’s decisions lacked “legitimate justification” and was breaking the “spirit of alliance” between the two countries.
“We call on the United States to come back from this mistake that will cause irreparable damage to our strategic ties,” the ministry said in a statement.