Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan clarified debate Wednesday about Ankara’s deal with Moscow to buy S-400 Triumf air defense systems, saying his government won’t cancel the deal, despite protests from its ally in Washington.
“This is over,” Erdogan said, noting the signatures had already been made on the deal and that the first delivery will be made in July. “We are an independent Turkey, we are not slaves.”
US Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, who heads US European Command, recommended to the US Congress on Tuesday that if Turkey presses ahead with buying the S-400 systems from Russia, delivery to Turkey of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter should be cancelled.
“If they accept the S-400 and establish it within Turkey, there is an issue […] that has to do with the F-35,” the commander told the Senate Armed Service Committee, Sputnik reported. “It presents a problem to all of our aircraft, but specifically the F-35. My best military advice would be that we don’t then follow through with the F-35, flying it or working with an ally that’s working with Russian systems, particularly air-defense systems, with what I would say is probably one of most advanced technological capabilities.”
The Turkish president also mused that his government might later consider buying Russia’s top-of-the-line S-500 Prometey (Prometheus) air defense systems at a later date. The S-500 isn’t even fully operational with the Russian Armed Forces yet, but is believed it will be equal in capability to the US Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system once it enters service in 2020.