Russian Federation to deliver S-400 missile defence system to Turkey in July

Russian Federation to deliver S-400 missile defence system to Turkey in July”

The move at Luke Air Force Base comes faster than expected, days after acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told his Turkish counterpart that their pilots who were already in the country could remain there until the end of July. Asked if the missiles would be delivered in July, he said: "Yes, that's what we plan somehow". But removing Turkey from the F-35 program would be one of the most significant ruptures of recent times.

Their comments were in response to a question about the USA acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan's letter to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar that laid out the steps to remove Turkey from the F-35 training program.

Russian Federation and Turkey penned a $2.5 billion contract on the delivery of four battalion sets-worth of S-400s to Ankara in late 2017.

"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.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara remained ready to set up an expert working group with Washington to try to allay USA concerns about the S-400s and the threat they supposedly pose to the F-35.

Some training of Turkish maintenance personnel continues at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the official said.

The safety concern is being explained as the same procedure used to temporarily ground USA military pilots if they are facing a "significant life event", such as a divorce or death in the family, that would be a distraction during flight operations, the official told CNN.

Shanahan said in his letter sent to the Turkish Defense Ministry on June 7 that all Turkish pilots in the F-35 fighter jet program must leave the United States by July 31 and training for new pilots will be suspended.

Ties between Ankara and Washington have already been tense over a host of issues, including conflicting strategy in Syria, Iran sanctions and the detention of USA consular staff in Turkey.

Turkey appeared set to move ahead with the S-400 purchase despite the US warnings.

Erdogan said the U.S. had not "given us an offer as good as the S-400s". Erdogan said last week it was "out of the question" for Turkey to back away from its deal with Moscow.

FILE PHOTO: People walk past Russian S-400 missile air defence systems before the military parade to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the battle of Stalingrad in World War Two, in the city of Volgograd, Russia February 2, 2018.

The head of Russia's state-owned conglomerate Rostec said last week that Moscow would begin delivering the S-400 air defence systems to Turkey. If the U.S. has concerns regarding the technical side of things, we have said dozens of times that we are ready to talk about this.

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