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U.S. Bans Sales of F-35 to Turkey over Purchase of Russian Air-Defense Systems

A real-size mock of F-35 fighter jet is displayed at Japan International Aerospace Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, November 28, 2018. (Tim Kelly/Reuters)

The Trump administration on Wednesday officially banned Turkey from purchasing American-made F-35 fighter jets, citing the NATO member’s purchases of Russian-made anti-aircraft systems.

“Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible,” a statement from the White House said. “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”

The Turkish government said Wednesday that two Russian cargo aircraft had delivered the 13th and 14th shipments of components for the S-400 missile-defense system to Mürted Air Base near Ankara.

“The delivery of the S-400 long-range air defense system is ongoing,” Turkey’s Defense Ministry wrote on Twitter along with a photo of one of the Russian cargo planes.

The U.S. has warned in the past that it will not allow Turkey to have both the Russian S-400 and U.S. F-35 fighter jets. The Trump administration plans to keep the four jets Turkey has bought so far on U.S. soil.

“Turkey has been a longstanding and trusted partner and NATO Ally for over 65 years, but accepting the S-400 undermines the commitments all NATO Allies made to each other to move away from Russian systems,” the White House said, adding that the U.S. will continue to work with Turkey.

“As NATO Allies, our relationship is multi-layered, and not solely focused on the F-35,” the White House continued. “Our military-to-military relationship is strong, and we will continue to cooperate with Turkey extensively, mindful of constraints due to the presence of the S-400 system in Turkey.”

VIEW GALLERY: U.S. Air Force F-35A

“Turkey cannot field a Russian intelligence collection platform in proximity to where the F-35 program makes repairs, and houses the F-35,” said Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Ellen Lord at a press conference. “Much of the F-35′s strength lies in its stealth capabilities, so the ability to detect those capabilities would jeopardize the long-term security of the F-35 program.”

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