Turkish F-35 pilots no longer flying at USA base

Turkish F-35 pilots no longer flying at US base amid S-400 row

Turkish F-35 pilots no longer flying at US base amid S-400 row

Turkey's deal with Russian Federation for the S-400 system is reportedly worth $2.5bn (£1.96bn) and Ankara has previously rejected United States offers to sell them the Patriot alternative in 2013 and 2017.

While Ankara argues it has a sovereign right to diversify its defense suppliers, Washington demands full obedience and insists that the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should only purchase NATO-approved weapons systems.

Turkish officials have told daily Hürriyet that there was no change regarding Turkey's stance on an S-400 missile defense deal with Russian Federation.

If Turkey were removed from the F-35 program, it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history in the relationship with the United States, experts said.

Erdogan said the U.S. had not "given us an offer as good as the S-400s".

Ankara said it was Washington's initial refusal to sell its Patriot missile system that led it to seek other offers, adding that Russian Federation offered a better deal that included technology transfers.

The U.S. resolution, introduced in May and entitled "Expressing concern for the United States-Turkey alliance", was agreed in the House on Monday. That, the resolution said, would undermine the US -led transatlantic defence alliance.

In response, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that its foreign policy and judicial system were being maligned by "unfair" and "unfounded" allegations in the resolution.

"Instead [of seeking dialogue], taking non-binding decisions that don't serve of building mutual trust, the language of threats and sanctions and the deadlines are not acceptable", the statement said.

President Tayyip Erdogan's government faces a balancing act in its ties with the West and Russian Federation, with which it has close energy ties and is also cooperating in neighbouring Syria.

Mr Shanahan said the training of Turkish pilots for the F-35 will end on 31 July and Turkey will be phased out from the F-35 programme, in which it has manufactured essential parts for the fighter jets.

Reuters on Thursday reported a U.S. decision to stop accepting more Turkish pilots from entering the country for training, in what had been one of the most concrete signs that the dispute over the F-35 fighters was reaching a breaking point. There is no middle ground.

Turkey appeared set to move ahead with the S-400 purchase despite the USA warnings.

If Turkey does receive the Russian defence system this summer, it is expected to be ready for use by 2020.

Separately, credit ratings agency Fitch warned on Tuesday that any US sanctions on Turkey would have a "significant impact" on sentiment around the Turkish lira, which has sold off since late March in part due to the spat with Washington over the missile defence system.