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US to end Turkey's participation in F-35 programme over Russia deal

IANS  |  Ankara 

The has ordered the termination of Ankara's participation in the jet programme if the doesn't back down from its missile deal with Moscow, in its most severe warning to Recep Erdogan's administration yet.

Acting US in a letter to his Turkish counterpart on Thursday said that all Turkish pilots in the programme must leave the US by July 31 and training for new pilots will be suspended, news agency reported on Saturday.

The timetable would allow pilots currently training on the to complete their trainings and for other pilots to be reassigned to other posts, Shanahan said.

His remarks are the latest in a set of moves by the US to try to remove from the programme amid a standoff with its NATO ally over the purchase of Russian missile defence system.

Tensions between the US and have reached a pitch in recent months with set to begin receiving the advanced Russian surface-to-air missile system in July.

has already suspended deliveries of parts and services related to Turkey's receipt of the multi-million dollar jets. "You still have the option to change course on the S-400," Shanahan said in the letter.

Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defence system from the US with no success, decided in 2017 to purchase Russia's system, the news agency said.

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

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

said that it was Washington's initial refusal to sell the Patriot missile system that led it to seek other offers, adding that offered a better deal that included

Erdogan had earlier said that the US had yet to give Turkey an "offer as good as the S-400s".



(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, June 08 2019. 14:12 IST