The United States cannot force Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program without the consent of other parties, as this is prohibited by the program agreement, Turkeys head of defense industries has warned.
The F-35 arrangement between nine states, including the US and Turkey, does not allow a single party to remove another from the project, President of Defense Industries Ismail Demir told Reuters on Friday.
“This isnt part of the agreement, this isnt something you can just say, I exclude you about,” Demir said. “The F-35 project is a partnership and nowhere in the agreement does it allow a unilateral removal of one country.”
No single country can say they dont want you and then remove you from the program.
Washington has threatened to exclude Ankara from the multi-billion-dollar fighter jet program over the Turkish plans to purchase Russian-made S-400 missile defense systems, which US officials say are not compatible with NATO defense infrastructure and would “compromise” other systems, including the F-35.
The White House said earlier this month it was considering sanctions if Turkey went through with the S-400 deal. Washington also canceled training for Turkish pilots learning to fly the aircraft at US air bases. Because Turkey produces some of the parts for the fighter, the Pentagon says it has already begun to line up alternative manufacturers.
Undeterred, Ankara has responded that it would make the S-400 purchase this summer, and vowed to retaliate against any US sanctions.