by David J. Bercuson
April 22, 2019
The United States and Turkey are on a collision course, and Turkey’s future as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is also on the line.
The immediate cause of the contretemps is that Turkey has committed to buying Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. The United States claims that these missiles are not compatible with the new F-35 Stealth fighter, which Turkey has also committed to buy.
The Turks have been part of the F-35 consortium almost from the beginning and are manufacturing F-35 parts as part of the consortium. Turkey has even received the first two of some 100 aircraft, although these two fighters remain in the United States. The Americans believe that not only is the Russian missile system not compatible with the F-35s, but that the technology of the two systems will bleed into each other, giving the Russians invaluable insight into the F-35’s capabilities. As of this moment, the United States has stopped taking delivery of Turkish-manufactured F-35 parts and U.S. military leaders have urged their government to cancel the decision to sell the advanced fighter to Turkey.