UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The United States said on Thursday it was “possible” that Turkey would eventually abandon the Russian S-400 missile defense deal, which has greatly strained ties between the two NATO allies.
“This is possible,” said Defense Secretary Heather Wilson, who is in charge of the US Air Force. “Diplomats continue to work in this direction.”
Washington has asked Ankara to choose between the Russian defense system and buy US F-35 fighter jets, of which Turkey wants 100.
In early April, the United States suspended Turkey’s delivery of ground equipment in connection with the use of F-35s, designed to be able to connect in real time to NATO military systems, including those related to anti-missile defense systems.
Turkey took over two F-35s in June 2018 but remained at Locke Air Force Base near Phoenix, Arizona, because the Turkish pilots who will lead the aircraft are still undergoing training.
“We will continue to train Turkish pilots at Locke Air Base, but we do not think we will be able to send these aircraft to a country with an S-400 system designed to meet F-35s and others,” Wilson said.
The Turkish authorities have so far confirmed they will not back down from the Russian missile deal and hand over the first of them in June or July.
But Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Zhaoshoglu said last month that Turkey understood the concerns of its allies within NATO.
The Turkish media quoted several hypotheses to overcome this crisis, such as non-activation of the S-400 missiles to be received, or transfer these Russian batteries to another country.
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