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S-400 system or F-35 jets: Turkey to decide between Russia and US


News Analysis |

The United States of America has lived up to the intimidating air it has been creating over the prospects of Turkey getting its hands on the most “advanced” fighter jet in the world. U.S Defense Department has finally decided that Turkey would not get the much anticipated F35 Lightning II jets after it failed to bow down to U.S pressure of giving up the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-ballistic missile defense system.

“Pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400, deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability have been suspended,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Defense Department spokesman, said in a statement.

It marks yet another broad-spectrum difference between Washington and Ankara, adding to the long list of disagreements over U.S based Turkish dissident scholar Fethullah Golan which Turkey wants to be extradited, War in Syria, and Iran nuclear deal to name the few.

To counterbalance the Turkish security dilemma that it needs an umbrella over its airspace, the United States of America offered a much pricier PATRIOT defense system instead of at a discounted rate.

Though the delivery of the jets, which was initially expected to take place in November, was halted, however, Turkish pilots who are currently in the United States to undergo training for F35 are continuing to do so. Turkey is yet to make a comment over the development which has come just before the NATO summit scheduled in the United States which would be attended by Turkish foreign minister as both United States and Turkey are NATO allies.

Why the U.S Wants Turkey to Give up S-400 System?

United States feels threatens with the integration of Russian mil-tech hardware into the arsenal of a NATO ally as it could help S-400 radars to track F35 jet. Since stealth is one of the distinguishing attributes of advanced F35 jet, which nearly costs $100 million apiece, therefore it is important for the operational capabilities that radar could not detect it, especially not a Russian one. During the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Serbs were able to take down F-117 Nighthawk stealth bomber by simply applying some modification to their obsolete soviet made radar system, causing a global embarrassment for the United States.

Read more: Turkey to pay for Russian S-400s in rubles or lira: Erdogan

To counterbalance the Turkish security dilemma that it needs an umbrella over its airspace, the United States of America offered a much pricier PATRIOT defense system instead of at a discounted rate. Turkey did show interest in the U.S made system but with the determination of procuring S-400 also, and not abandoning it. Therefore, the offer could not make any real impact and the feared standoff between two countries which are not only NATO allies but also the manufacturing partners of the F35 project.

Is F35 Really Worth it?

It is an overbudgeted and overdue project, missing its mark by 7 years, due to the concurrent process of design, production, and testing which leads to inefficient delivery and service mechanism of aircraft. It is certainly one of the most expensive fighter aircraft and many analysts believe that it is not worth the price tag it comes along.

Bilateral relations between both the countries which had improved after Turkey release the detained pastor Andrew Brunson are now once again headed toward a troubled lane.

But Turkey is the pioneer partner of the project which also produces certain parts of it, and not just a buyer, cannot simply pull out and look for other options as the investment over the years is too much. On the other hand, the United States is certainly mulling over the options to cut Turkey out as it does not produce parts which are technologically much sophisticated and cannot be reproduced elsewhere.

Bilateral relations between both the countries which had improved after Turkey release the detained pastor Andrew Brunson are now once again headed toward a troubled lane. With diminishing domestic popularity of Turkish President, as indicated by the loss in the local body elections, may force him to take a hard line against the United States which would further complicate the matter.

Read more: US suspends F-35 program deliveries to Turkey over Russian arms

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