Excluding Turkey from the US-made F-35 fifth-generation fighter jet program will weaken NATO’s capacities at the southern flank, Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar said on Thursday.
 
“Excluding Turkey from the F-35 program will have a particularly negative impact on the power of NATO’s southern flank,” the Anadolu news agency quoted the official as saying.

The minister added that Ankara remained the strategic partner of the United States, and, in this respect, “has the right to expect Washington to abstain from steps that might harm bilateral relations.”

The White House said in a statement on Wednesday that “Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible.” However, Washington pointed out that it will “continue to cooperate with Turkey extensively, mindful of constraints due to the presence of the S-400 system in Turkey.” The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on the United States on Thursday to reconsider this decision, which “may deal irreparable harm to bilateral relations.”.

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