The Pentagon may halt manufacturing support for the F-35 fighter jet in Turkey if Ankara insists on purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defense system, US Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Friday, according to Agence France-Presse.
“If Turkey decides that the S-400 is a decision they want to go forward with, then we have to move work out of Turkey,” Shanahan was quoted as saying, adding that Washington remains steadfast in its opposition to Turkey's adoption of the anti-aircraft technology.
Shanahan confirmed he had met with Lockheed Martin and United Technologies Corp last week. Lockheed is the prime contractor on the jet, while United Technologies makes the jet's engine.
“I want airtight plans that have near-zero execution risk so we can flawlessly deliver on all the other F-35s to our other customers,” Shanahan said, according to Reuters.
Reuters reported earlier this year that Washington was exploring whether it can remove Turkey from production of the stealth fighter jet, in reaction to Ankara's refusal to back down from its planned purchase of the Russian missile system, which is sees as a threat to western defense. [Combined reports]