News World U.S. may suspend training of Turkish pilots for F-35 jets over Russia...

U.S. may suspend training of Turkish pilots for F-35 jets over Russia missile deal

The United States is seriously considering suspending training for Turkish pilots on advanced F-35 fighter jets as Ankara moves ahead with plans to purchase a Russian missile defence system despite objections from Washington, sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

The two NATO allies have argued for months over Turkey’s order for the Russian S-400 defences, which Washington says are incompatible with the Western alliance’s defence network and would pose a threat to American F-35 stealth fighters which Turkey also plans to buy.

The two sources, who are familiar with Turkey’s role in the F-35 programme and who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a final decision had not yet been made.

The deliberation follows signs that Turkey is moving ahead with the S-400 purchase. Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on May 22 that Turkish military personnel were receiving training in Russia to use the S-400, and said Russian personnel may come to Turkey.

Turkish pilots have also been training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. It was unclear whether a decision to suspend their training would mean they would have to leave the country, or would be allowed to remain at the base until a final decision is made about Turkey’s future in the F-35 programme.

The United States has said plainly that Turkey cannot have the S-400 and be part of the F-35 programme. The F-35 is made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

If Turkey was removed from the programme, it would be one of the most significant ruptures in recent history in the relationship between the two allies, experts say.

“Washington is signalling that while it would rather not break military ties with Turkey, it is ready to do so if Ankara does not change its mind regarding the S-400 purchase,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish programme at the Washington Institute.

Strains in ties between Washington and Ankara already extend beyond the F-35 to include conflicting strategy in Syria, Iran sanctions and the detention of U.S. consular staff in Turkey.

DONE DEAL

The Pentagon and State Department declined to comment on any deliberations about the pilots. But Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews noted discussions are taking place with Ankara on potentially buying the Patriot missile defence system.

Andrews said the Patriot system, made by Raytheon Co. , “remains a robust, NATO-interoperable alternative to the S-400 for (Turkey’s) national defence requirements.”

On Monday, Turkish broadcaster Haberturk quoted Akar as saying in an interview that the delivery of the S-400 may not happen in June, when Turkey previously said the missiles were due to arrive. He added the agreement was a done deal, however.

“They may not make it by June but they will come in the months ahead. The process has begun,” he was quoted as saying.

Objecting to Ankara’s planned Russian defence purchase, the United States in late March halted delivery of equipment related to the F-35 to Turkey, which is both a buyer and a production partner in the programme. The move was the first concrete step of what could eventually be the full removal of Turkey from the F-35 programme.

The United States has warned that if Turkey takes delivery of the Russian system, it will also trigger U.S. sanctions under CATSAA, a law calling for sanctions against countries procuring military equipment from Russia.

Turkey has said that as a NATO member it poses no threat to the United States and the sanctions should not apply. Ankara has also increasingly pinned its hopes on President Donald Trump to protect it from such penalties.

U.S. officials have called Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400 system “deeply problematic.” Washington and other NATO allies that own F-35s fear the system’s radar will learn how to spot and track the jet, making it less able to evade Russian weapons.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

Confirmed covid patient refuses to self isolate, walks around in free Famagusta area-Dozens of people booked

  A woman from the free Famagusta area who tested positive for covid-19 did not self-isolate and was walking in a public area yesterday noon. She...

Covid-19 patients rise at referral hospital, now 59

  Covid-19 patients at the Famagusta General, the referral hospital for coronavirus have risen to 59. Four are being treated in the increased care unit for...

5 third country students employed illegally at two Nicosia restaurants

  Authorities continued a campaign to stamp out the illegal employment of third country individuals who are being exploited by Cypriot employers for peanuts. Officers from...

Mass rapid tests in Larnaca over the weekend

  Rapid tests will be taking place throughout the weekend in the city of Larnaca. The municipality informed the public that the Health Ministry had organised...

What Covid? 17 people gambling on home table booked

  Police in Paphos are investigating an illegal gambling case, with 17 people setting up in a private residence early evening yesterday. The Crime Prevention Unit...

Taste

Squash soup

Ingredients: 1 kg pumpkin, cut into small cubes, approximately 5 cups 2 medium (400g) sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, approximately 2 ½ cups 1 chopped leek, only...

Mezedes

No visit to Cyprus is complete without enjoying the traditional meal of many small dishes known as ‘meze’. This large feast, which has been a...

Prawns with fried cheese, barley shaped pasta

Put the barley shaped pasta into a small pan with salted water, bring to a boil and when tender, drain. Peal the prawns leaving...

Salmon and shrimp sheftalies

Mix all ingredients for tabbouli in a bowl and keep to one side so flavours can combine. Prepare the sheftalies: wash and soak the casing...