/Turkey receives Russian air defense system, threatening rift with U.S.

Turkey receives Russian air defense system, threatening rift with U.S.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pictured. | Getty Images

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Ergodan has said he feels confident President Donald Trump will prevent sanctions from taking effect. | Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

Turkey Friday received its first shipment of a Russian air defense system, a move expected to trigger U.S. sanctions against the NATO ally and possibly eject Ankara from the global F-35 fighter jet program.

The country’s Defense Ministry announced that the S-400 system was delivered to an air base near Ankara, according to multiple reports.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Ergodan has said he feels confident President Donald Trump will prevent sanctions from taking effect. After meeting with Trump at the G-20 summit last month, Erdogan said he “never got the impression in meetings with Trump that there might be sanctions.”

But Trump may not be able to stop Congress from sanctioning Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, and some lawmakers have proposed legislation that would block Turkey from receiving the F-35.

The Pentagon has urged Turkey to purchase the American-made Patriot air defense system made by Raytheon instead. Turkey has said it wants to have both the Russian and U.S. systems, but it’s unclear if America will allow that to happen.

The U.S. government has maintained that Turkey cannot have both the Russian S-400 and the F-35 fighter jet, a joint program in which Turkey has been a partner, because it would pose a security risk to the F-35’s cutting-edge stealth technology. Turkey plans to buy about 100 F-35s, and some Turkish companies also manufacture parts for the global program.

The Pentagon has said it would find manufacturers in other countries to build those parts if Turkey moves forward with the S-400 purchase.

In a June letter, the Pentagon also said it would stop training Turkish pilots to fly the F-35 on July 31 and excluded Turkish representatives from a June F-35 chief executive officer roundtable.

“Turkey will not receive the F-35 if Turkey takes delivery of the S-400,” the letter said.

The U.S. and Turkey have been close allies on defense. In addition to both being NATO members, the U.S. flew air missions against the Islamic State from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base. Congress has also been notified of more than $5 billion in U.S. arms sales to Turkey since 2009, according to a Congressional Research Service report from last year.

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