US lawmakers call for scrapping Turkey's F-35 purchases

By Umar Farooq

WASHINGTON (AA) – Senior U.S. lawmakers introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives on Wednesday expressing concern over U.S.-Turkish relations and calling for the cancellation of Ankara's F-35 fighter jet purchases if it acquires Russia’s S-400 missile defense system.

The resolution also called for sanctions on Turkey through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it acquires the Russian missile system.

CAATSA was passed in 2017 against Iran, North Korea and Russia in an attempt to combat those countries' influence across the globe.

The sanctions, if implemented, could also affect Turkey's ability to obtain Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, Black Hawk utility helicopters and F-16 fighter jets.

The resolution is the latest attempt by the U.S. to convince Turkey not to go through with its acquisition of the S-400.

Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase Russia’s system.

U.S. officials advised Turkey to buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400 system from Moscow, arguing it would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35 to possible Russian subterfuge.

Turkey, however, has emphasized that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO operability and therefore would not pose a threat to the alliance.

The resolution says that while "Turkey is a critical NATO ally and important military partner for the United States," the S-400 missile system undermines Washington's security along with the security of other NATO allies.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that the U.S. should establish a "technical working group" to evaluate the S-400 system and ensure that it will not be a threat to either F-35 fighter jets or any NATO systems.