May 17 2019

Washington says Turkey may change its mind on S-400 purchase

A top U.S. official said on Thursday it was possible for Turkey to change its mind on purchasing Russian S-400 missile systems, which Washington says are incompatible with NATO systems and posing a security threat to the F-35 stealth fighter, Agence France Presse reported.

Asked on Thursday if Turkey may ultimately change its mind on the S-400, the U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson replied, "it's possible,” adding that diplomats had been working on the issue. 

Wilson’s comments came amid heightened tensions between two NATO allies over Ankara’s planned S-400 acquisition. A bipartisan U.S. House bill submitted this week calling for the termination of Turkey's participation in F-35 production and a halt to the delivery of F-35 aircraft to Turkey if Ankara goes ahead with its planned Russian S-400 purchase.

The United States in April froze a joint F-35 manufacturing program with Turkey, which produces 6-7 percent of the parts of the fighter jets. 

"We're continuing to train the Turkish pilots at Luke Air Force Base, but we don't think that we can deliver those aircraft into a country that has the S-400," Wilson said, referring to Turkey’s plan to buy 100 F-35As and dozens of F-35Bs.

The U.S. officials have called for sanctions on Turkey if it goes ahead with the purchase of S-400 under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which targets Russia as well as Iran and North Korea.