During his testimony in front of the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee on May 1, US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has confirmed that Turkey won’t be able to get its hands on F-35 stealth aircraft if it proceeds with its intended purchase of Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, ONA reports citing Sputnik.
"I think there’s very little possibility that they have a misunderstanding," Shanahan said when Rep. Diaz-Balart inquired whether this message has been sent to Ankara "clear enough", and if there’s any chance that Turkish government hasn’t understood the message.
Diaz-Balart also stressed that "it’s one or the other – they cannot have the F-35", to which Shanahan replied that "there’s no confusion on our part".
US authorities have repeatedly voiced concerns about sensitive tech potentially falling into Russia’s hands if Turkey were to simultaneously acquire both F-35 stealth warplanes and S-400 anti-air weapon systems.
Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that a multinational project on the development of the F-35 Lightning II would collapse without Turkey’s participation.
Washington has repeatedly voiced concerns that if Turkey acquires both S-400s and F-35s, it will create a possible security risk as Russian experts would allegedly be able to obtain key insights into sensitive information related to the warplane's technology.
Ankara, for its part, has maintained that the S-400s were not connected to the security of NATO, the US or the F-35 in any way. Despite Ankara's explanation of the issue, Washington has decided to stop deliveries of F-35 fighter jet parts to Turkey.