US may stop training Turkish pilots to fly F-35 jets over S-400 deal
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US may stop training Turkish pilots to fly F-35 jets over S-400 deal

The training is part of the United States’ “F-35 program,” which has also made Turkey a partner to the aircraft’s manufacturing process. Two sources, who are familiar with Turkey’s role in the program and who asked not to be named, made the remarks to Reuters on Tuesday. The Pentagon has yet to take a final decision on the issue, they added. The US has threatened Turkey that it would end the program if it refuses to halt its 2017-finalized deal with Moscow for Russia’s advanced S-400 missile systems. On April 1, Washington directly announced that it would be suspending all “deliveries and activities” related to Turkey’s procurement of F-35 stealth fighter jets over Ankara’s plans to purchase the S-400s. The US claims that the Russian equipment is not “compatible” with the hardware and network lying under the control of the Western military alliance of NATO, which is dominated by Washington and has Turkey as a member. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, says the purchase of S-400 missiles is “a done deal.” Turkey’s potential removal from the F-35 program would mark a significant rupture in its ties with the US, which have already been clouded by Washington’s support for anti-Ankara Kurdish militants and its refusal to extradite Fetullah Gulen, an opposition figure and coup leader wanted by Ankara, among other issues.

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