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The Pentagon last week gave Turkey a deadline of July 31 to decide between the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems and the F-35 fighter jets, also noting that pilots from Turkey who are in the US for F-35 training will be sent to their countries on that day and Turkey will not be able to use the four jets it already received.
The pilots have also been barred from using and accessing the aircraft, the Foreign Policy reported, citing two US defense officials.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives of the US approved a legislation yesterday (June 10) that calls Turkey to cancel the purchase of the missile systems from Russia, saying that Turkey has to choose between the F-35s and S-400s as well.
Turkey’s NATO allies worry that Russia can use the S-400 systems to collect data on the F-35’s capabilities and weaknesses, which they perceive as a security threat.
The Foreign Ministry of Turkey has denounced the bill in a written statement, saying that the approval of the bill is “not compatible to the rotted relationship of friendship and alliance between Turkey and the US.”
“It is not possible to accept the unjust and baseless claims about the foreign policy and judicial system of Turkey.
“It is unacceptable to take decisions that are not binding and that do not serve to build mutual confidence, keeping the language of threat and sanctions on agenda and setting some artificial deadlines.”
“We can meet our needs from elsewhere”
Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said ahead of his visit to Washington on June 14 that if the US prevents Turkey from receiving the F-35s, they can “meet their needs from elsewhere.”
Pro-government daily Yeni Şafak suggested that “the security bureaucracy of Turkey has plans B, C, D” and it is looking for the Su-57 jets from Russia and J-31s from China as alternatives to F-35.
The US is also looking for alternatives in case Turkey is removed from the F-35 program, the US media reported. (PT/VK)