Ankara’s decision in 2017 to purchase the Russian-made air defence system has contributed to a sharp decline in Turkish-US relations. Last month, Washington condemned “in the strongest terms” Turkey’s testing of its S-400s. NATO, meanwhile, has warned that the air defence system poses “risks” to allied aircraft.
Turkey remains prepared to discuss the issue of the technical compatibility of its S-400 air defence systems with America’s advanced fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has said.
According to the defence minister, Turkey was keen to ensure the safe operation of F-35s since it is “not just a client for the F-35 programme,” but a partner nation, which makes “the safety of the F-35 as important [for Turkey] as it is for the United States.”
Washington booted Turkey out of the F-35 programme in mid-2019 in connection with its S-400 purchase, and has repeatedly threatened to slap sanctions on its ally unless Ankara shipped its Russian-made air defences back to Russia.
Turkish authorities have rejected Washington’s pressure. In late October, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused US authorities of not realising “who it is dealing with,” and urged America to get it over with and to slap Ankara with whatever S-400-related sanctions it may have in store.
The United States and its NATO allies have repeatedly complained about the alleged technical…