Trump to Cancel Fighter Jet Deal With Turkey if It Buys Russian Missile System

The Trump administration has halted its sale of F-35 fighter jets to ally Turkey until the country agrees to cancel its purchase of an anti-aircraft missile system from Russia, according to reports.

The decision was made days after a group of Senators introduced a bipartisan bill to delay delivery of the aircraft to Turkey in order to prevent Russia from gaining access to U.S. military technology.

"I'm glad the administration is heeding the bipartisan call in Congress to delay the transfer of F-35 equipment to Turkey to help ensure U.S. military technology and capabilities cannot fall into the hands of the Kremlin," Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, from New Hampshire and member of the Senate foreign relations committee, said in an emailed statement. "Though Turkey is an important U.S. ally, their close relationship with Putin and persistent efforts to acquire the Russian S-400 air defense system could seriously compromise our national security."

President Donald Trump speaks with F-35 fighter plane pilot Lt Col Jason Curtis as he tours Luke Air Force Base, where he is for a “Make America Great” rally, in Phoenix, Arizona, on October 19, 2018. Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey's pledge to purchase an S-400 missile system from Russia has become a point of contention between the country and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies over the past several years. Questions have been raised about whether the U.S. may eventually sanction Turkey over the purchase.

Leaders of the Western military alliance have repeatedly warned Turkey that the Russian system is incompatible with NATO weaponry and could pose security risks. The missile system can allegedly protect against stealth aircraft and other advanced weapons used by NATO like the F-35. But Turkey has brushed off the warnings and promised to move ahead with the controversial purchase.

In July 2018, on the sidelines of a NATO conference, Turkey's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu claimed that his country planned to buy the missile system from Russia because he could not obtain a similar system from Western allies.

"I wanted to buy from the U.S. for the last 10 years, it didn't work. I couldn't buy from NATO allies, so Russia gave me the best proposal and now I'm buying from Russia," he said. But the U.S. reportedly offered to sell Turkey a $3.5 billion patriot missile system to incentivize canceling the purchase from Russia.

Meanwhile, in September 2018, the Trump administration sanctioned China's Equipment Development Department (EDD) for purchasing weapons from Russia. The sanctions were issued under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which Congress signed into law in 2017. The law includes a blacklist of Russian people and entities that others will be sanctioned for doing business with. China's EDD, for example, was sanctioned for purchasing a missile defense system from Russia's state arms export company, which is on the CAATSA blacklist.

Some analysts at the time pointed out that Turkey could face similar consequences if it moves ahead with the purchase of the S-400.

Trump to Cancel Fighter Jet Deal With Turkey if It Buys Russian Missile System | World