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Dialogue will start with US to resolve issues with F-35s, Turkish defense industry chief says

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Turkey’s defense industry director İsmail Demir has announced that a dialogue will be initiated between Ankara and Washington to find a solution to problems that arose over Turkey’s exclusion from the F-35 fighter jet program, local media reported on Friday.

“Within the framework of our partnership, a dialogue will be started to find a legal solution that will become the spirit of alliance between us so that our rights to the [fighter] jets won’t be lost,” Demir told reporters on Friday.

He also said Ankara has received a letter from Washington intending to resolve the problem with the production of parts for the F-35s.

“We have already said that no country can be unilaterally excluded from the F-35 program. And the latest letter from the United States confirmed that we were right. … We cannot solve anything without talking. The talks have now started,” Demir said.

In late April the US Department of Defense officially notified Ankara of Turkey’s removal from the F-35 stealth fighter development and training program due to its procurement of a Russian missile defense system.

Washington canceled a joint memorandum for the production of the F-35, signed by Ankara in January 2007, joined by the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Canada, and Norway – the other partners in the project.

Turkish contractors have continued to produce parts for the aircraft and will do so through 2022, according to local media reports.

In 2017 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan brokered a deal worth $2.5 billion with Russian President Vladimir Putin for the S-400 missile system despite warnings from the United States and other NATO allies.

While Washington argues that the mobile surface-to-air missile system poses a threat to its F-35 fighter jets as well as NATO’s broader defense systems, Turkey rejects this and says the S-400s will not be integrated into NATO.

Washington imposed sanctions in December on Turkey’s military procurement agency as punishment for its purchase of the S-400 under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, which mandates penalties for transactions deemed harmful to US interests.

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