The US may consider returning Turkey to the fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bombers program. This was announced by US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. According to him, Washington will study the issue of Ankara’s return to the program if the Turkish authorities refuse to buy S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia.
Esper recalled that he had repeatedly warned the Turkish authorities about the impossibility of acquiring simultaneously the American F-35 and Russian S-400. “You cannot put one in the garage and roll out the other [for the purpose of use]. Either one or the other, ”said the Minister.
Washington refused to supply multipurpose fighters to Turkey after Ankara purchased S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Moscow. The United States and other NATO countries fear that if the Turkish forces have both the S-400 and the fifth-generation American fighter F-35, then the radars of the Russian systems will learn to calculate and track these aircraft.
An agreement on the purchase of four S-400 divisions by Ankara was reached in September 2017. The contract is worth $ 2.5 billion, half of this amount will be covered by a Russian loan. Deliveries of systems began in July 2019. In this regard, the US Senate has banned the sale of Turkey F-35. US President Donald Trump said that the decision to impose additional sanctions has not yet been taken.