President Trump has announced that the U.S. is going to halt sales of its F-35 stealth fighter jet to Turkey because the country received a new missile defense system from Russia – an exchange he claims was spurred by actions from the Obama administration.
Trump, speaking during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday, suggested the U.S. ended up in this scenario as a result of the past president’s administration imposing too many conditions for Turkey to purchase the U.S.-made Patriot missile system, an alternative to the Russian S-400 system they recently obtained, according to The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. officials previously have expressed concerns about Moscow’s potential intelligence gathering if Turkey came to be in possession of both the advanced American aircraft and the Russian missile-defense technology.
“Turkey is very good with us, very good,” Trump said. “And we are now telling Turkey, because you have really been forced to buy another missile system, we’re not going to sell you the F-35 fighter jets.”
The decision this week comes after the Department of Defense announced in early April that it "suspended" deliveries of F-35 fighter jet parts and manuals to Turkey over their purchase of the Russian system.
"There is great concern that if they acquire that missile system and have the F-35 airplane, the Russians will have a window into the technology that’s used to produce the F-35," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., told Fox News at the time.
The U.S., the Associated Press says, initially agreed to sell 100 of the jets to Turkey – with the first two arriving in June.
The decision to now call the sales off will impact the Turkish economy as companies based in the Middle Eastern country produce hundreds of parts for the F-35, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The effectiveness of the S-400 long-range, surface-to-air missile system in the theater of war remains to be seen. According to a National Interest analysis, the system boasts an impressive ability against a range of aerial targets including aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles but is yet to be tested in combat – however its use as an economic warfare tool cannot be underestimated.
Fox News’ Hollie McKay, Sam Chamberlain and Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.