Published: Sat, July 20, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Trump equivocates on whether U.S. government is mulling Turkey sanctions

Trump equivocates on whether U.S. government is mulling Turkey sanctions

"The US and other F-35 partners are aligned in this decision to suspend Turkey from the program and initiate the process to formally remove Turkey from the program", Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defence for acquisition and sustainment, told a briefing.

The United States announced on Wednesday that it was beginning the process of removing Turkey from the programme for the F-35 stealth fighter, the most advanced aircraft in the USA arsenal, which is used by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and other partner countries.

The ministry said: "We call on the United States to come back from this mistake that will cause irreparable damage to our strategic ties".

An F-35A Lightning II performs a high-speed pass during the Arctic Lightning Airshow, July 13, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. However, Ankara chose to do business with Moscow instead.

"We're not looking at that right now", Trump told reporters at an Oval Office event to celebrate the U.S. Special Olympics team, when asked if he was considering sanctions on Turkey. Both countries are major rivals to the US.

Pointing out that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members such as the US, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain all have Patriots, Erickson says the alliance would "obviously" prefer that Turkey "acquire Patriot missiles because they are compatible with other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations' air defence systems".

"Unfortunately, Turkey's decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible", White House officials wrote Wednesday.

Mr. Trump rued the loss of the sale of up to 100 F-35s to Turkey, saying manufacturer Lockheed Martin would suffer.

The U.S. action will lock out a number of Turkish manufacturers that were producing parts and components for the F-35. Buyers already included Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Ten Turkish companies will be suspended from making more than 900 parts for the F-35 that over the programme's lifetime could generate more than US$9 billion in orders, according to the Pentagon.

The Trump administration had threatened to expel Turkey from the F-35 fighter program if it acquired the S-400 from Russian Federation, warning the system could be used by Moscow to covertly attain secret information on the stealth fighter.

"We haven't announced that yet", he said. The territory remains under Turkish control after a 1974 invasion of the island nation whose southern, sovereign half has close political and cultural links to Greece.

Earlier on Wednesday, the United States confirmed Turkey's exclusion from the program after repeated warnings.

"Turkey has always been a valuable operational member of the alliance - the Turkish forces under my command were highly professional and part of our efforts in Afghanistan, Libya and the Balkans, as well as against piracy on the high seas", he wrote.

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