A US congressional delegation signaled that if Turkey cancels the purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, Washington could withdraw its block on the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, during a meeting on Monday with Turkish officials in Ankara, the NTV news agency reported.
Led by Michael Turner, a Republican congressman representing Ohio’s 10th district, the delegation met with officials from the Turkish foreign and defense ministries and ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Osman Aşkın Bak, the former minister of youth and sports.
According to the report, the US delegation conveyed a desire to mend the strained relationship between the two NATO allies, while the Turkish officials demanded a change in the negative attitude towards Turkey on the part of the US Congress.
The meeting also dealt with Turkey’s ongoing military operations against the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party, with the officials asking the US to better support Turkey in its efforts.
The Turkish government signed a contract to buy S-400s from a Russian defense contractor in 2017, a deal that was considered by the US and NATO to be a threat to the alliance.
While US politicians criticized Turkey over its purchase of the Russian air defense system, the US administration signed legislation that blocks the delivery of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey.
The legislation also referred to the almost two-year imprisonment of American pastor Andrew Brunson in Turkey on terror-related charges. A court decision putting Brunson under house arrest instead of releasing him further strained relations between the US and Turkey.
A Turkish delegation that met with officials in Washington on the Brunson issue in early August returned home empty-handed.
Turkey receives second batch of Chinook helicopters from US
Meanwhile, the second batch of CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters has begun arriving in Turkey from the US.
The Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry (SSM) announced that the first of five helicopters, part of the second delivery of Chinooks, entered the inventory of the Turkish military on Saturday.
Six helicopters were delivered to Turkey in 2016 under a 2011 contract with American aircraft manufacturer Boeing for the purchase of 11 CH-47s.
The heavy-lift helicopters have two rotors and two motors, each having 4,800 horsepower. With a range that can increase to 1,100 kilometers with the help of fuel tanks, the helicopters can fly safely even in conditions of zero visibility. The helicopters, which can carry up to 10 tons, can be used in both military and civilian operations.
The shipment comes after the US Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which prohibits the delivery of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to Turkey until the Pentagon issues a report on the issue in 90 days. (SCF with turkishminute.com)