The United States is not currently looking at sanctioning Turkey over its purchase of Russian air defense systems, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday, a day after the White House said the move made Ankara’s presence in the F-35 program impossible.
A spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan expressed “unease” on Thursday over Washington’s decision to remove Turkey from the joint strike fighter program, broadcaster CNN Turk said. Erdogan spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said relations between the NATO allies could not remain healthy with such unilateral decisions, it said.
The United States announced on Wednesday that it was beginning the process of removing Turkey from the program for the F-35 stealth fighter, the most advanced aircraft in the U.S. arsenal, which is used by NATO and other partner countries.
Turkey, like other partners in the F-35 program, was part of the manufacturing supply chain for the high-tech jet aircraft, producing some 900 parts. A U.S. official said it would cost some $500 million to $600 million to shift the F-35 manufacturing from Turkey.
Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program had long been threatened and was expected after Ankara began accepting delivery of the first parts of the Russian S-400 air defense system last week.