Ankara, The US decision to exclude Turkey from NATO’s F-35 fighter jet programme is a “unilateral” step and might bring “irreparable damage” to bilateral relations, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
“This unilateral move is neither related to the alliance spirit or based on legitimate foundations,” the Ministry said in a statement.
“It is unfair to remove Turkey, one of the partners in the F-35 programme,” the Ministry added, rejecting Washington’s claim that Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system would weaken the F-35 programme.
The Ministry’s statement came after the White House confirmed the exclusion of Turkey from the F-35 programme, citing Ankara’s decision to purchase the S-400 air defence system as the main reason, Xinhua news agency reported.
Moreover, the Turkish suppliers, which provide over 900 parts for F-35, would no longer receive $9 billion in projected work share over the life of the programme, according to Pentagon.
Turkey has ordered more than 100 F-35 fighter jets, a handful of which had been scheduled to be delivered in the coming months.
In December 2017, Turkey signed a $2.5 billion agreement with Russia on purchasing two batteries of the S-400 system.
Ankara received the first three shipments of S-400 components on July 12 and a fourth shipment on July 13, defying threats of sanctions from Washington.