Top U.S. General: No F-35 Jets If Turkey Buys Russian Defense System
The head of the United States military’s European Command has implored Congress to bar the delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey if Ankara purchases the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti reiterated to the Senate Armed Services Committee that the S-400 is not inter-operable with NATO equipment and that Turkey, as a member of the Western defense alliance, could provide Moscow—intentionally or otherwise—with sensitive technologies by concluding the deal. The comments echo a recent warning by Vice President Mike Pence, who “made it clear that we will not stand idly by while NATO allies purchase weapons from our adversaries.” The U.S. previously agreed to sell 100 fifth-generation F-35 fighters to Turkey but lawmakers last year delayed their transfer due to Ankara’s cozying up to Russia. President Donald Trump and his counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan also have publicly sparred over Washington’s support for Syrian Kurdish forces that Turkey deems an extension of the banned PKK, as well as the White House’s unwillingness to extradite exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup.