Turkish F-35 Pilots Prohibited from Training at U.S. Base
The standoff between the United States and Turkey over the latter’s prospective purchase of the Russian-made S-400 anti-missile defense system could be reaching a crescendo, as Washington has halted an F-35 fighter jet training program for Turkish pilots on American soil. The move comes amid a dispute between the two countries as Ankara shifts closer to Moscow, whose S-400 batteries and associated radars – which are not inter-operable with equipment used by NATO, of which Turkey is a member – could pose a threat to the U.S. military’s stealth F-35s. The White House has offered Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the U.S.-made Patriot system instead, however, he has thus far stood firm in his decision. Washington and Ankara have long been at odds over U.S. support for Syrian-Kurdish fighters that Turkey considers an extension of the banned PKK, a Kurdish group that has waged a decades-long insurgency in the country. The Turkish government has also slammed the Trump Administration for its refusal to extradite exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for the failed coup in 2016. Meanwhile, most western countries have condemned Erdogan for his massive crackdown on civil society following the attempted takeover.