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By Mosheh Gains, Abigail Williams and Alexander Smith
WASHINGTON – The United States has blocked Turkey from receiving equipment related to the F-35 jet until its NATO Allies cancel an order of one Russian missile defense system.
Washington is deeply dissatisfied with Turkey's order of Russia's S-400 Triumph, which is among the most advanced and feared air defense systems in the world.
At the same time, Turkey has ordered 30 of the F-35 smugglers and the plans to buy more than 100 in total, according to Turkey, have Lockheed Martin Corp.
already "received" its first two jets, although these are currently stored in Arizona's Luke Air Force Base, where Turkish pilots train with them.
"The United States has been aware that Turkey's Acquisition of the S-400 is unacceptable," said Pentagon spokesman Charles E. Summers Jr. in a statement Monday. "If Turkey acquires S-400, their continued participation in the F-35 program is in jeopardy."
Turkey agreed to buy The S-400 system from Russia in 2017, an agreement allegedly worth $ 2.5 billion to begin delivery in July.
After months of warnings and ultimatums, the American suspension represents the first major concrete step in trying to force Turkey to rethink. This week marks the alliance's 70th anniversary.
In February, Vice President Mike Pence said that the United States "will not be idiotic while NATO Allies are buying weapons from our opponents."
It is a string of ever-growing relations between Washington and its allies who joined NATO in 1952.
The two countries have collided with Syria, where Turkey opposes US backed-Kurdish warriors who have been with to fight ISIS.
Turkey has also called on the United States to exhibit Fethullah Gulen, the exile president is currently holding up a Pennsylvania association, which remains a target for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
S-400 undoubtedly represents the most pressing of these disputes. The codenamed "Growler" by NATO, the system has a range of 250 miles and can shoot down planes, cross missiles and drones up to a height of 100,000 feet, according to Russian state media.
On Monday, the United States said the suspended "supplies and activities associated with" the jet's "operational capabilities," said the spokesman. In addition, because parts of the F-35 are made in Turkey, the spokesman said the US is now looking at other options for this part of the supply chain.
The conditions of the S-400 agreement could be further expanded with "Imaginable future arms transfers" to Turkey from the United States is also at risk, says a state department spokesman.
Turkey may also be subject to sanctions, the spokesman added, namely during the fight against US opponents through the Sanctions Act or CAATSA, as the US deployed, when China purchased the S-400 and other equipment from Russia's blacklisted state arms export agency.
The suspension came one day before President Donald Trump is due to meet NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington on Tuesday.
The capital on Thursday will host a summit of the Alliance's Foreign Ministers – including Turkey's – recognition of NATO's 70th anniversary.
The United States and NATO say their biggest concern over the S-400 concerns what they call "interoperability" – provides all the gels of the allied equipment together and communicates seamlessly.
If Turkey buys a Russian missile defense system, it would mean part of its defense infrastructure that speaks another language to the rest of the Western Alliance.
In addition, some experts worry that if Turkey has both S-400 and F-35 on its land, it will be able to test the ability of the Russian system to track the beam, ultimately reducing its effectiveness. Such data would be invaluable if it were to fall into the hands of the Kremlin.
Mosheh Gains and Abigail Williams reported from Washington, and Alexander Smith reported from London.