The Trump administrationis locked in an escalating standoff with Turkey over its plans to purchase an air defense system from Russia, with a deadline fast-approaching for Ankara to back down or lose out on U.S.-made F-35s – and possibly more.
In a letter to Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan pointedly threatened to block Turkey from receiving F-35 jets if the NATO member goes through with procuring the S-400 system.
“Turkey will not receive the F-35 if Turkey takes delivery of the S-400,” he wrote. “You still have the option to change course on the S-400.”
Turkey has been a joint participant in the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program since its Defense Industrial Executive Committee approved a block buy in 2016 for 24 aircraft over three contract years. The country already bought four F-35 fighter jets, which are being held at the Luke Air Force Base for now.