Turkey defiant after US F-35 threat

Turkey to face'grave consequences for acquisition of Russian S-400 Pentagon

Although the formal U.S. offer for Turkey's purchase of the Patriot systems expires at the end of March, U.S. officials had asked Turkey to give an informal answer on the decision of purchasing the S-400 by February 15. But Erdogan said it was a done deal.

The US had agreed to sell 100 of its latest, fifth-generation F-35 fighters to Turkey, and has so far delivered two of the aircraft.

Echoing other American and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation officials who have advised against the purchase of the Russian weapons, the top US general cautioned that the surface-to-air missile defense system would be present a threat to the F-35, noting that it is not compatible with other allied systems and would ultimately threaten security.

Earlier this week, the head of U.S. European Command told lawmakers the United States should not move forward with the F-35 sales, should Turkey purchase the S-400.

Mr Erdogan would do well to heed the warning, as well as the possibility of USA sanctions.

In late December previous year, the U.S. State Department authorized a proposed Foreign Military Sale to Turkey for the Patriot Missile system and related support and equipment worth $3.5 billion.

"We will move toward a joint production. We may also go into S-500s after the S-400s". He hinted at concerns that Turkey's using both the S-400s and the F-35 could provide Russian Federation with valuable information on how to defeat the tech-heavy jet slated to become a signature fighter for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries and their partners.

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"We're not a slave, we're independent", Erdogan said.

Erdogan confirmed in an interview this week that his country would begin receiving Russian-made S-400 air defense missile in July, adding a date to the prospective sale that has anxious North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies in recent months.

Erdogan added that first delivery of the S-400 would be made in July.

To keep the Kurdish fighters away from its frontier, Turkey wants to secure a Syria safe zone along its border rather see that job done by a multinational force. However, if they won't, give them to Turkey.

"We can't say "yes" to giving control of the safe zone to anyone but Turkey", Erdogan said.

Despite the grievances, Erdogan also struck an optimistic note by speaking favourably about Trump. "I believe discussions that I will hold with him, and discussions between Mr Berat and Kushner, will put things back on track".

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