Turkey must abandon S-400s if it wants to re-join F-35 programme, Pentagon says

The Undersecretary of Defense for Policy John Rood on Wednesday said Turkey could re-enter the joint production programme of F-35 fighter jets should the country forgo the Russian S-400 air missile systems, National Defense magazine reported.

“There’s an old proverb, ‘No matter how far you've gone down a wrong road, it's never too late to turn back.’ To that end, the United States is continuing to work with Ankara in hopes of a positive outcome," Rood said.

Turkey has been suspended from the programme for the joint production of F-35 fighter jets over its purchase of Russian systems, and it risks more extensive measures from the United States under a 2017 law designed to prevent third parties from dealing with Russia.

Turkey took the delivery of S-400s in July despite objections from its NATO allies and activated the systems for testing on Nov. 25.

“We haven't given up on the issue and it's something that we remain engaged with the Turks, with the aim of persuading them to pursue another path,” he said.

Turkey maintains that the U.S. insistence to punish Turkey over its S-400 purchase is a violation of the country's sovereign rights. 

“Of course, these are sovereign decisions and we respect the ability of the Turkish government to make sovereign decisions about its future. Nonetheless, those sovereign decisions have consequences and we are very concerned about the continued pursuit of that,” the U.S. official said.