Turkey and Russian Federation start joint patrols in Syria’s Idlib - Ankara

Saul Bowman
March 9, 2019

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said his country will move ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 air-defence missiles, dismissing United States threats to cancel the sale of high-tech F-35 jets to Turkey.

Earlier this week, the head of U.S. European Command told lawmakers the United States should not move forward with the F-35 sales, should Turkey purchase the S-400.

In an interview with broadcaster Kanal 24, Erdogan said it would be "immoral" for Turkey to turn back from its deal with Russian Federation.

Patriot defence systems are continuing, Akar said, adding that the S-400 systems would begin to be installed in October.

"My best military advice would be that we don't then follow through with the F-35, flying it or working with allies that are working with Russian systems, particularly air defense systems", Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said Tuesday.

The comments come as part of this week's back-and-forth between Ankara and Washington on the issue.

In a speech in Munich last month, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declared that the Trump administration has "made it clear that we will not stand idly by while North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies purchase weapons from our adversaries".

"They will not get the F-35s if they take the S-400", he added, later indicating the potential Patriot sale would also be blocked.

Some have said the USA is concerned that the S-400 poses security risks to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project.

Although the US has already delivered two warplanes under an agreement to sell F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, Congress ordered a delay in future deliveries past year.

Ankara is slated to receive the S-400 later this year in hopes of making the system ready for use by 2020.

Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar told state-owned Anadolu news agency that the move followed an agreement made in September previous year.

Turkey has invested more than US$1.25 billion in the stealth F-35 jet since its development phase began in 2002.

"If Turkey takes the S-400s there will be grave consequences", acting chief Pentagon spokesperson Charles Summers told reporters Friday, saying it would undermine America's military relationship with Ankara.

Washington fears the sophisticated radar of the S-400 system could compromise the F-35 technology, which was developed to elude Russian-made systems.

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