Pentagon says it expects to resolve row with Turkey over S-400

Elias Hubbard
April 3, 2019

Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Tuesday said he expected to resolve a dispute with Turkey over its planned purchase of Russia's S-400 air defense system, a day after the United States halted delivery of equipment related to F-35 fighter jets to Ankara.

The U.S. had agreed to sell Turkey 100 of the fifth-generation aircraft made by Lockheed Martin, initially planning to deliver two aircraft to Turkey in June.

On Monday, the Pentagon said it had suspended the delivery of equipment related to the stealthy F-35 fighter jet "pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400".

In December 2017, Russian Federation and Turkey signed a loan agreement for the supply of S-400s.

"I'm glad the administration is heeding the bipartisan call in Congress to delay the transfer of F-35 equipment to Turkey to help ensure US military technology and capabilities can not fall into the hands of the Kremlin", Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, from New Hampshire and member of the Senate foreign relations committee, said in an emailed statement.

"Our relationship is not being defined by the single issue of the S-400, but the S-400 is a deeply problematic issue for the United States", the official added.

Shanahan added that he expected the delivery of F-35s now at Luke Air Force base to Turkey.

"We have very serious concerns about its stated plans to proceed with the acquisition of the S-400 missile defense system and there will be potential consequences, within sanctions law and the F-35 program if they continue", said the official.

His confidence stems in part from what he sees as the good deal the U.S. has offered Turkey, floating a $3.5 billion offer in December for the Patriot air defense system that would take the place of the S-400.

Turkey has shown no signs of backing away from the deal with Russian Federation. Last week, at a joint news conference in Turkey with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said, "We have an agreement with Russia, and we are bound by it".

Wolters, now commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, spoke at his confirmation hearing for promotion to four-star rank and to succeed retiring Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti in the dual role as supreme commander of the 29-member North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance and U.S. European Command.

Meanwhile, the the presumptive head of European Command, Gen.

At the hearing, both Wolters and Townsend said their main concerns are a resurgent Russian Federation seeking to counter USA influence and undermine allies and China's growing strategic and economic ties in Europe and Africa. He said the Chinese are seeking "access and influence, to our detriment". James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, the committee chairman, and Sen. There appeared to be little opposition to their swift confirmations.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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