The US General nominated to lead the NATO military alliance has told Congress that while Turkey remains an important ally, it should not get advanced US F-35 fighter jets if it buys Russian S-400 air defense as planned.
"The S-400 and F-35 are not compatible and if Turkey goes down a road to acquire and operate the S-400, they should not get the F-35," Air Wolves said. Tod Wolters said to his senate confirmation Tuesday.
Wolters is the US Air Force Commander in Europe and Africa and has been nominated to serve as both the head of the US European Command and NATO's supreme Allied Commander in Europe.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced it has suspended deliveries and activities with the standard of Turkey's operational capacity F-35 and warned that if Turkey takes over S-400, its continued participation in the F-35 program is in jeopardy. "
" We all understand that Turkey is an important ally in the region, but it is absolutely untenable to support the co-location of an F-35 and S-400, "Wolters says." The S-400 is incompatible from one point of view because it speaks a language other than NATO English. And that is certainly not interoperable. "
The US officials hope that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has just suffered a setback in the local elections, has other thoughts about bending the NATO alliance by buying advanced Russian anti-aircraft missiles.
" We very much regrets the current situation facing our F-35 partnership with Turkey, "said acting chief Pentagon spokesman Charles Summers in a statement on Monday." Our important dialogue on this issue will continue. "
Turkey is not only a Lockheed-Martin F-35 customer, it is also one of eight international partner countries that build key components for the aircraft, including parts of the hull and cockpit.
The Pentagon has begun to plan the loss of Turkey as a partner in the project and says that "secondary sources of supply for Turkish-produced parts are under development."
But in a short media availability during a meeting with the Mongolian Defense Minister, acting defense minister Patrick Shanahan expressed optimism that Turkey would eventually reject the Russian S-400 and buy US patriot missile batteries instead.
"I have had a number of conversations with the Defense Minister [Hulusi] Akar, and I really believe we will solve this situation," Shanahan told reporters. "I am very sure of the Patriot proposal that we have provided to Turkey, its availability, its pricing and, more importantly, the industrial participation that comes with the patriot system."
As for the two F-35s, Turkey has already paid to be held at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for training Turkish pilots, "I expect them to be delivered," Shanahan said.