WASHINGTON --- Training by Turkish pilots on F-35 fighter jets has come to a faster-than-expected halt at a U.S. air base in Arizona, U.S. officials said on Monday, as the United States winds down Ankara’s involvement in the program over Turkey’s plans to buy a Russian air defense system.
The United States says Turkey’s acquisition of Russia’s S-400 air defenses poses a threat to the Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 stealthy fighters, which Turkey also plans to buy. Washington says Ankara cannot have both.
The move to halt training at Luke Air Force Base, first reported by Reuters, came just days after acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told his Turkish counterpart that Turkish pilots already in the United States could remain there until the end of July. That would have allowed time for more training and for Turkey to rethink its plans.
“The department is aware that the Turkish pilots at Luke AFB are not flying,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, told Reuters. (end of excerpt)
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