The US Department of Defense has officially notified Ankara of Turkey’s removal from the F-35 stealth fighter development and training program due to its procurement of a Russian missile defense system, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
A US defense official said in remarks to Anadolu on Wednesday that Ankara was sent a statement notifying it that the Joint Memorandum of Understanding that was opened to participant countries’ signature in 2006 and signed by Turkey on January 26, 2007 has been cancelled and Turkey that has not been included in the new agreement.
Despite warnings from the United States and other NATO allies, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brokered a deal worth $2.5 billion with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the S-400 missile system in 2017.
The S-400, a mobile surface-to-air missile system, is said to pose a risk to the NATO alliance as well as the F-35, America’s most expensive weapons platform.
Washington says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and NATO’s broader defense systems. Turkey rejects this and says the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.
Turkey joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program (JSF) in 2007.
Other participants in the program were the US, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Canada and Norway.
During the first round of negotiations, Turkey pledged to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets.
In 2018 six jets were earmarked for Turkey on the condition that Turkish pilots be trained by the program before the actual delivery; however, the delivery of the fighter jets was postponed after the start of the S-400 crisis between the US and Turkey.
Washington later purchased the six jets from Turkey for use in the US Air Force.
Turkish contractors have continued to produce parts for the aircraft and will do so through 2022, according to the Pentagon.
Washington imposed sanctions in December on Turkey’s military procurement agency as punishment for its purchase of the S-400 under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which mandates penalties for transactions deemed harmful to US interests.