U.S. Will Not Accept More Turkish F-35 Pilots Over Russia
June 7, 2019
According to an exclusive report from Reuters, The United States has decided to stop accepting any additional Turkish pilots who planned to come to the United States to train on F-35 fighter jets.
Turkey has ordered Russia’s S-400 air defence system, which Washington says it poses a threat to the Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealthy fighters, which Turkey also plans to buy.
The United States says Turkey cannot have both.
The two U.S. officials, who spoke to Reuters this week on condition of anonymity, left open the possibility the decision could be reversed, perhaps if Turkey altered its plans. They said the decision so far only applied to upcoming rounds of Turkish pilots and maintenance crews who would have normally come to the United States.
There has not yet been a formal decision to halt the training of the Turkish pilots and maintenance crews now at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, the sources said. Still, Reuters reported last week that the step was being seriously considered.
Four Turkish pilots are currently training at Luke. Two additional Turkish pilots are at the U.S. base working as instructors. Beyond those six Turkish officers, there are an additional 20 Turkish aircraft maintainers at the base undergoing training as well, the U.S. military says.
Turkey has expressed an interest in buying 100 of the fighters, which would have a total value of $9 billion at current prices.