The Pentagon warned that should Turkey move ahead with its purchase of a Russian-made air defense system there would be “grave consequences” for Ankara, Trend reported citing The Hill.
“There would be grave consequences in terms of our military relationship with them,” Defense Department spokesman Charles Summers told reporters at the Pentagon.
Turkey, a NATO ally, plans to buy Russia’s S-400 long-range air defense system, but the United States has been trying to convince the nation to buy a Patriot air defense system instead.
The U.S. military has threatened to withhold delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey if Ankara goes through with the Russian purchase. Trump administration officials were in Turkey this week to work on the issue.
Summers said that if Turkey buys the S-400, “then they would not get the F-35s” or the Patriot system.
The comment follows testimony this week from U.S. European Command head Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, who told Congress on Tuesday that he would recommend that the United States not “follow through with the F-35, flying it or working with an ally that’s working with Russian systems.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, meanwhile, dismissed such threats and on Wednesday said that the decision has already been made.
“The S-400 is a done deal, there can be no turning back. We have reached an agreement with the Russians," Erdoğan said in an interview with Kanal 24 television. “We will move toward a joint production. Perhaps after the S-400, we will go for the S-500.”
Turkey is a partner in making the F-35. Parts of the jet are built in the country, and Turkey is supposed to eventually get 116 of the fifth-generation fighter jets. But U.S. officials have expressed concerns that the S-400 could be used to gather information on the advanced aircraft.
Summers would not say whether the F-35 partnership with Turkey would be eliminated as part of the warned consequences.