USA threatens Turkey with sanctions, possible removal from F-35 program

Erdogan breaks silence on US to stand by Russian missile deal

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

In an interview with broadcaster Kanal 24, Erdogan said it would be "immoral" for Turkey to turn back from its deal with Russian Federation. Created to stop enemy aircraft, drones, cruise and ballistic missiles, the S-400 is the most advanced mobile air defence system in Moscow's arsenal. "We've agreed with the Russians, we will go into joint production".

Starting this October, the S-400 systems will be installed in Turkey, he said, adding that the Turkish Air Forces are studying where to deploy the missiles.

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"If they accept the S-400 and to establish it in Turkey, there is first of all the issue of that it's not interoperable with NATO's systems, nor is it interoperable inside of our air-missile defense system", he added.

Erdogan also noted Washington's decision to withdraw trade privileges from Turkey, warning that "no one should try to make us toe the line with such measures".

The S-400 Triumf is the most advanced long-range air defense missile system that went into service in Russian Federation in 2007.

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The US warned this week that it could retaliate by blocking Turkey's planned purchase of the next-generation F-35 fighters it's helping to build.

Some have said the USA is concerned that the S-400 poses security risks to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project. Congress has already ordered the delay of a scheduled shipment of 100 fighter jets to Turkey in anticipation of the country going through with the purchase.

If they accept the S-400...there's first of all an issue that it's not interoperable with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation systems nor is it interoperable inside of our integrated air missile defense system so that presents one problem.

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Russian Federation and Turkey penned a $2.5-billion contract on four battalions of S-400s in December 2017, with the first of the systems set to arrive later this year.

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