Sunday 26 May 2019
News ID: 64237
Publish Date: 15 March 2019 - 21:44
WASHINGTON (Dispatches) – Turkey’s pending purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system presents a national security problem for NATO, which would not be able to deploy F-35 aircraft alongside the Russian systems, senior U.S. officials say.
The officials, who briefed a group of reporters on condition of anonymity, said Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 system was not tantamount to it withdrawing from NATO, but that Ankara’s purchase should be viewed as a national security issue, not a merely commercial decision.
"We are continuing to work on a range of options to ensure that Turkey’s participation in the NATO alliance and bilateral relationship can continue unabated and unimpinged,” one of the officials said.
"The gravity of the risk to the F-35 both to the United States and to NATO allies is such that the two systems cannot be co-located.”
NATO member Turkey has repeatedly said it is committed to buying the Russian missile system, despite warnings from the United States that the S-400s cannot be integrated into the NATO air system.
Washington has warned that procuring the S-400 systems from Russia could jeopardize defense industry deals between the NATO allies.
The U.S. State Department last week said Washington had told Turkey that if it buys the S-400 systems, the United States will have to reassess Ankara’s participation in the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter program.
Washington has sought to persuade Turkey to instead purchase the American-made Patriot defense system, but Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said Ankara remains committed to the deal for the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.
Erdogan said on Thursday it is not possible for Turkey to back out of a deal with Russia to buy S-400 missile systems.
He made the comment in an interview with private broadcaster Haberturk. Asked whether it is possible for Turkey to buy the S-400s but not activate them, Erdogan said that was not possible.
The senior U.S. officials said Washington’s offer to sell Patriots to Turkey continued and that the two sides remain in negotiations about it.

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