UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY) – The United States can block the transfer of Turkey’s newest F-35 fighters, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell said.
The US is consistently trying to achieve the cancellation of Ankara’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems. Washington, in particular, threatens Turkey with a refusal to supply multi-purpose F-35 fighter fighters.
Earlier, at the company of the American company Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, the ceremony of transferring the first F-35 to Turkey was held. As the representative of the Turkish defense industry secretariat told RIA earlier today, the F-35 aircraft transferred to Ankara will remain in the US until November 2019 for the training of Turkish pilots.
According to Mitchell, despite the fact that the first F-35 transmission ceremony has already taken place in the United States, planes will remain in the country for the time being, and Washington can block their direct delivery to Turkey.
“As you know, in the framework of this program, the US retains control over the aircraft before the transfer, and this happens only after a long training process (pilots) .I believe that this helps us in the circumstances, as it gives us time to continue transmitting (to the Turkish side.) I understand that we are now in the training stage (pilots), we believe that we have the legal authority to deny transfer (these aircraft) under certain circumstances that include concerns from the point of view I’m the national security “, – said Mitchell.
The congress is considering two options for the United States defense budget for 2019, which provide for certain consequences for Turkey in the event of an SAM. The documents will be consolidated into one, now one of them is talking about the cessation of Turkey’s deliveries of US high-tech weapons, including F-35 fighters, and in the other – about including sanctions against Ankara.
In December 2017, Turkey and Russia signed a loan agreement for the S-400. Ankara will buy two batteries of air defense systems, which will be serviced by Turkish personnel. The sides also agreed on technological cooperation in the development of S-400 production in Turkey.
The US and NATO representatives have repeatedly criticized Ankara for this deal. Thus, Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell stated that the purchase of the S-400 could negatively affect the supply to Turkey of the F-35. The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded that Ankara would take action against Washington if the deliveries of the fighters were blocked.