“Turkey is an ally. They are a strategic partner for us. So we continue communicating.”
Ellen Lord, the US Undersecretary of the Pentagon, also answered questions about the F-35 crisis between Turkey and the US while holding a press conference on the US military procurement and procurement processes. “Turkey is an ally,” Lord stated on whether or not Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program is “irreversible.” “They are a strategic partner for us. So we continue communicating ” she said.
Lord said the aircraft belonging to Turkey were still at Luke Air Base and were continuing to work on “various roadmaps” related to their fate.
Asked how long it would take for Turkey to be officially removed from the programme, Lord said: “I think it could take a year from today as we are working on the continuation of production and the (re) development of the Memorandum of understanding, which is the most inclusive document of the partnership.”
“We keep the F-35 program and other relations with Turkey separate”
On whether Turkey’s removal from the F-35 program would affect Turkey’s other purchases from the United States, Lord said, “We separate Turkey from the F-35 issue and our other activities. This issue was clearly the S-400 and the F-35 issue,” he said.
Asked whether Turkey’s removal from the program would be a return, the Pentagon undersecretary said:” the S-400 and the F-35 do not match. Turkey is an ally. “They are a strategic partner for us. So we keep talking all the time, ” she replied.
The accession process has been closed since 2002 and will not be continued at this stage with a new partner instead of Turkey, Lord said.