Donald Trump says U.S. won't sell F-35 fighter jets to Turkey
President Donald Trump said Tuesday the U.S. will not sell Turkey advanced F-35 fighter jets over Ankara's acquisition of the Russian S-400 anti-air system. "It's a very tough situation that they're in. And it's a very tough situation that we've been placed in the United States," Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
The Trump administration has repeatedly told Turkey that it will be cut off from buying F-35s if it buys the S-400 Russian air defense system because it's incompatible with NATO defenses and could jeopardize sensitive information about F-35 technologies. Turkey is a member of NATO.
Trump blamed the Obama administration for never reaching a deal to sell an American missile defense system to Turkey.
The president pointed to that Turkey was forced to buy the S-400 system by his predecessor Barack Obama, leading the Pentagon to halt plans to sell F-35 fighter jets to the country.
He says Turkey had ordered more than 100 F-35s but because it bought a Russian missile system, the U.S. can't sell it billions of dollars' worth of aircraft.
TRUMP CITES 'GOOD RELATIONSHIP' WITH TURKEY
Trump said that US relations with Turkey are good despite Ankara's decision to buy a Russian missile defense system, making no mention of sanctions Washington has threatened over the purchase.
"I've had a good relationship with President (Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan," Trump told journalists.
"It's a very tough situation that they're in and it's a very tough situation that we've been placed in.... With all of that being said, we're working through it -- we'll see what happens."
Trump spoke Tuesday during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.
The Trump administration has threatened to expel Turkey from the F-35 fighter program if it acquired the S-400 from Russia, warning the anti-air system could be used by Moscow to covertly attain secret information on the stealth fighter.
The delivery of S-400 components began last week and is ongoing. Turkey's Defense Ministry said a twelfth Russian plane with the anti-air parts landed at Murted airfield outside Ankara on Tuesday.
Following protracted efforts to purchase an air defense system from the U.S. with no success, Ankara signed a contract in 2017 to purchase the S-400s from Russia.
The U.S. halted in June training for Turkish pilots as a step in winding down Turkey's participation in the F-35 program.
Washington has also threatened sanctions over Turkey's purchase, with Ankara responding that any sanctions would be met in kind.