The initial delivery of the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system will start in June as planned before, a Turkish official said on April 4 amid mounting U.S. pressure for the annulment of the deal between Turkey and Russia.
“The first parts of the S-400 air defense system will arrive in June and the shipment will be completed in July,” a Defense Ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The training for Turkish pilots in the U.S. for the F-35 fighter jet project is continuing, said the official.
“The training of our pilots is continuing in the U.S. There is no such thing as stopping the training. Turkey is one of the partners of the F-35 program and fulfills its obligations in this regard,” said the official.
The U.S. announced on April 1 that it has suspended “deliveries and activities” related to Turkey’s procurement of the F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter jet over Ankara’s plans to buy Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile system.
Following protracted efforts to purchase air defense systems from the U.S. with no success, Ankara decided in 2017 to purchase the Russian S-400 air defense system.
Ankara is also planning to purchase 100 F-35 fighter jets from the U.S. and its pilots are currently training on the weapons platform at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
Washington has long cautioned Turkey against the purchase of the S-400, warning it might be used to covertly obtain critical information on the F-35, including their detection range, which could then be relayed to Russia.