Turkey’s deployment of Russian S-400 air defence systems would be devastating for the US F-35 fighter programme, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs Kathryn Wheelbarger said at an event on Thursday, ONA reports citing Sputnik.
"Completion of this transaction would be devastating, not only to the F-35 programme… It would potentially rupture Turkish interoperability with NATO, a key aspect of the defence of the Alliance and let’s be clear — the S-400 is a Russian system designed to shoot down an aircraft like the F-35. And it is inconceivable to imagine Russia not taking advantage of that collection opportunity", Wheelbarger said at the Atlantic Council in Washington.
Wheelbarger stressed that the S-400 deal is a transaction that the United States cannot allow to happen.
Turkish Ambassador to the United States Serdar Kilic said that US F-35 fighter jets would not be in the coverage area of Russian S-400 air defence systems deployed to Turkey.
Washington has reportedly given Ankara until the end of the first week of June to either abandon the S-400 deal with Russia or face penalties, which would include sanctions, removal from Lockheed Martin's F-35 jet programme and cancelling the delivery of 100 F-35 jets.
Ankara has insisted that it is not going to give up its $2.5 billion S-400 contract with Moscow. The first batch of the S-400 system is expected to be delivered to Turkey in July.