The United States’ top general on Thursday called Turkey’s plans to obtain Russia’s S-400 missile defense system a “tough issue”, stressing that Washington’s alliance with Ankara is something he wants to secure for the long term, Anadolu reports.
“This issue of the S-400 is a tough issue, and we’re having a hard time,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said while speaking at the Atlantic Council.
“I think both the executive branch of our government, the legislative branch of our government, are gonna have a hard time reconciling the presence of the S-400 and the most advanced fighter aircraft that we have, the F-35. And so our position has been made very clear to Turkey, and we’re hopeful that we can find a way through this. But it’s a tough issue.”
Following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the US with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
Ankara is also planning to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets from the US and its pilots are currently training on the weapons platform at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Turkish firms supply the F-35 program with key components, including airframe structures and assemblies and the center fuselages.
Washington has cautioned that the S-400 system might covertly obtain critical information on the advanced fighter jets, including their detection range, which could then be relayed to Russia.
“Turkey is an ally and a very important ally, and we have many more areas of convergence than divergence. As we look at five, ten years down the road, I wanna make very sure that our Turkish allies are close to us.
“And I worked that relationship very hard. And to that point, I think since I’ve been a chairman, I’ve made twelve visits to Turkey. I’m not sure I’ve gone anyplace else even close to that many times,” Dunford said.
Turkey first joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1952, becoming a military ally of the US.