Turkey Pleads For US To Rethink F-35 Program Suspension Before Biden Enters White House

Despite Turkey facing immense Washington pressures over its acquirement and recent successful testing of the S-400 anti-air defense system from Russia, including its prior suspended participation in the F-35 program, President Trump has stopped short of allowing sanctions which have been advocated by Congressional hawks.

Critics of the White House have said it’s due to Trump’s “special relationship” with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; however, with Joe Biden expected to enter the White House in January, Ankara is on edge given Biden’s past charged rhetoric on Turkey.

For this reason Turkey is once again urging the US to reconsider, as Reuters reportsTurkey is ready to discuss U.S. concerns about the technical compatibility of Russian S-400 defenses and U.S.-made F-35 jets, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Thursday, repeating Ankara’s proposal for a joint working group with Washington on the issue.”

Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, via Sputnik 

The US position has long been that the Russian missiles and radar systems being utilized by NATO’s second largest military could compromise US weapons technology secrets, especially related to the F-35 stealth fighter program.

Ankara now hopes for an opening and softening of the US stance before the presidential transition:

“We are ready to address the U.S. concerns over the compatibility of the S-400s and F-35s,” Akar said.

“The safety of the F-35 technology is as important for Turkey as it is for the United States,” he said, adding the joint working group proposal was still on the table.

Akar said Ankara continued the preparations and tests of the S-400 systems, which he said “will be used the same way as the (Russian) S-300 system is used by some other members of the NATO alliance.”

Recall too that Biden had previously slammed Erdogan as an “autocrat” and is widely expected to take a harder line on Turkey than Trump.

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, via CNN

Turkey’s strategy appears to have been to make the Russian systems transfer a “done deal” in hopes it could simply “fix” and negotiate its way out of the breach with Washington later. 

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