The US has sent a clear message to Turkey after deciding to scrap the F-35 program and signed a new agreement that has excluded Turkey, Anadolu Agency (AA) cited a Pentagon official as saying late Wednesday.
This development is not surprising given the repeated warnings the US had made to Turkey that the supply of S-400 will cause problems in NATO, since the Russian weapons system is not compatible with those of the Alliance.
Washington decided to “freeze” Ankara’s participation in the F-35 Lightning II program in 2019, at a time when Ankara has argued that the S-400s do not pose a threat to NATO.
In particular, Turkey was excluded from the new F-35 agreement after the US withdrew the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed in 2016 by a total of nine countries. The new agreement, signed by the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and the United States, no longer includes Turkey, was made public yesterday, according to the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah.
As the Turkish newspaper wrote:
Washington removed Turkey from the F-35 Lightning II jet program in 2019, arguing that S-400 air missile systems acquired by Turkey could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets and is incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Despite Turkey’s removal from the program and sanctions imposed on Turkey’s defense industry in December, the Pentagon has said it will continue to depend on Turkish contractors for key F-35 components.
A U.S. congressional watchdog warned in May 2020 that the U.S. decision to expel Turkey from the F-35 program is likely to compound its already beleaguered supply chain issues from a production increase. The $398 billion (TL 3 trillion) F-35 program has faced many problems since then, including engine shortages.