US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said his administration will not sell American-made F-35 Lightning II fighters to Turkey over its decision to take delivery of a Russian missile defense system, The Hill reports.
“We are now telling Turkey … we’re not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting.
The commander in chief, however, offered no comment on whether he would impose congressionally mandated sanctions on Ankara, a NATO ally, over its purchase of the S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system, which U.S. officials fear could be used to gather intelligence on the F-35.
“It’s a very tough situation that they’re in. And it’s a very tough situation that we’ve been placed in the United States,” Trump said. “With all of that being said, we’re working through it. We’ll see what happens, but it’s not really fair.”
Turkey is one of nine partner countries involved in making and maintaining the F-35 advanced fighter jet and has plans to eventually buy at least 100 of the aircraft, a potential $9 billion sale.
But with Turkey’s purchase of the S-400, which is not compatible with NATO systems, U.S. officials fear Moscow will be able to gather classified information on the F-35, made by Lockheed Martin.
According to the source, the S-400 buy also sets off a number of penalties that Pentagon leadership has said would take place at the end of the month, including moving F-35 maintenance roles from Turkey to another country and having all Turkish personnel linked to the program leave the United States.