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Senators Respond to Turkey Accepting Russian Air Defense System

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) issued the following joint statement after reports today that a shipment of parts for the Russian S-400 air defense system had arrived in Turkey. The group of Senators led a bipartisan effort earlier this year that prohibits the transfer of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Turkey. The Senate included this provision in the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last month.

“We are disappointed to learn that Turkish President Erdogan has not agreed to meaningful efforts to provide his military with NATO-operable alternatives to the Russian S-400 air defense,” said the Senators. “Now they have solidified their stance with the acquisition of the Russian S-400, a surface-to-air defense system created to target and destroy the American F-35. Turkey is trying to play both sides, but we will not allow sensitive US military technology in the F-35 to be at risk. Turkey cannot have both Russian and American defense equipment sitting side by side. As long as President Erdogan insists on putting US and NATO assets at risk by acquiring Russian defense technology, the US will withhold our fifth-generation fighter jets and apply our normal restrictions on any government that purchases Russian military equipment.”