Washington stops training Turks on F-35 fighter jets

The United States has decided not to accept more Turkish pilots scheduled to be received in the United States for training on F-35 fighter jets, US officials said, in a clear sign of escalating discord between the two sides.

Turkey and the United States, the two NATO partners, have been entered in a dispute for months over a Turkish bid to buy Russia's S-400 defense system, which Washington sees as a threat to Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jets and which Turkey plans to buy, Sky News reported.

The United States says Turkey can not have the Russian system and US fighter jets, but has so far avoided taking steps to stop the planned training of Turkish pilots.

The two US officials, who spoke to Reuters this week, have left open the possibility of reversing the decision, perhaps if Turkey changes its plans.

They said the decision only applies to future batches from Turkish pilots and Turkish maintenance crews, who usually come to the United States.

The two sources said there was no official decision so far to stop training Turkish pilots and maintenance crews at Locke Air Force Base in Arizona. However, Reuters said last week the move was under serious consideration.

Four Turkish pilots are currently training at Locke Base. There are two additional Turkish pilots at the base. Unlike the six Turkish military personnel, the US military said 20 Turkish aircraft maintenance personnel were at the base and were undergoing training.

Turkey has shown interest in buying 100 fighters with a total value of $ 9 billion at current prices.


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