Turkish pilots return from U.S. after ejection from F-35 programme

Turkish pilots and maintenance crew have started returning from training in the United States after the U.S. administration suspended Turkey’s participation in a programme to help build and operate the latest F-35 stealth fighter jets when Ankara ignored warnings and began taking delivery of Russian S-400 air defence missiles, Karar newspaper reported.

The United States could also impose sanctions on Turkey’s already struggling economy as a result of its purchase of the Russian missiles, which U.S. leaders say could allow Moscow to glean sensitive information about NATO aircraft and undermine their defences. The issue is one of a number that divide the United States and its NATO ally, Turkey.

Some 42 Turkish pilots and maintenance crew were receiving training in the United States at Luke and Eglin air force bases. The U.S. military halted training of Turkish pilots on the F-35 jets at Luke base in Arizona in June.

In addition to winding down Turkish participation in the F-35 programme after the Russian missile components began arriving in Turkey last month, Washington also halted the delivery of 100 F-35 jets that had Ankara ordered. 

But the delivery of other types of U.S. military equipment to Turkey continues. The U.S. embassy in Ankara on Wednesday said the Turkish military took delivery of four Boeing CH-47F Chinook helicopters at the port of Izmir.