US-Turkey Military Ties Unchanged After Ankara Suspended From F-35 Program- Gen. Harrigian

US-Turkey Military Ties Unchanged After Ankara Suspended From F-35 Program- Gen. Harrigian

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 13th August, 2019) The military cooperation between the United States and Turkey remains strong after Washington's decision to suspend Ankara's participation in the F-35 fighter jet program over its purchase of Russian S-400 air defense system, US Air Force European Commander Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

"At this point, we remain very focused on our military-to-military relationships and those relationships remain very strong," Harrigian said. "I look forward to continuing to work through the situation, recognizing there will be some overarching, broader political issue that'll be worked at that level. But at our level, at the military level, we've remained very close to our Turkish partners and I see no change in that going forward."

Harrigian pointed out that political tensions between Washington and Ankara have not impacted the joint military operations at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey.

On July 17, the White House said in a statement that the purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system had made it impossible to keep Turkey in the F-35 fighter jet program.

US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Ellen Lord told reporters last month that the Defense Department would unwind Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program by March 2020. Lord also said the United States will spend up to $600 million in non-recurring engineering to shift the supply chain for the F-35 jet.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has called the US move a unilateral step that may bring irreparable damage to bilateral relations.

The United States and NATO member states have criticized Turkey's agreement with Russia to purchase the S-400 air defense system, saying the weapon is incompatible with NATO's air and missile defense systems.

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