The US has confirmed it will remove Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet program due to the country’s decision to purchase a Russian missile system.
Turkey began receiving the first parts for the S-400 air defence system last week, a move that the White House said renders Turkey's "continued involvement with the F-35 impossible".
"The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities. The United States has been actively working with Turkey to provide air defence solutions to meet its legitimate air defence needs, and this administration has made multiple offers to move Turkey to the front of the line to receive the US PATRIOT air defence system," a release from the White House said.
"Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and NATO ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems. This will have detrimental impacts on Turkish interoperability with the alliance."
The S-400 is considered one of the best, if not the best, all-round missile defence system in the world, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelling it “the strongest defence system against those who want to attack our country”, so the concern regarding the system garnering intimate knowledge of the F-35 seems justified.
Despite the decision to boot Turkey from the program, the US stressed that it "greatly values our strategic relationship with Turkey".
"As NATO allies, our relationship is multi-layered, and not solely focused on the F-35. Our military-to-military relationship is strong, and we will continue to co-operate with Turkey extensively, mindful of constraints due to the presence of the S-400 system in Turkey," the release from the White House noted.
Turkey had committed to purchasing 100 F-35s, however it will apparently need to look elsewhere to fill its fifth-generation aircraft needs.
Turkey is yet to comment on the decision from the White House.