The United States has repeatedly warned it will impose economic sanctions and kick Turkey out of the F-35 stealth fighter jet program if Ankara does not drop its S-400 purchase. Turkey has refused to bow to U.S. pressure, saying its defense purchase is a matter of national sovereignty.
The U.S. administration was publicly silent Friday on how it would respond to the delivery, with the Pentagon postponing a news conference. Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar spoke by phone. While the Pentagon declined to discuss the call, the Turkish ministry released a statement late Friday, saying Akar stressed that the purchase of S-400 defense systems "was not an option but rather a necessity" due to Turkey's security concerns.
The statement said there was no change in Turkey's "strategic orientation," adding that a deterioration in relations would not serve the interests of Turkey, the U.S. or NATO. The minister also emphasized Turkey's commitment to the F-35 program and repeated a proposal for a joint working group to study how the S-400 system would interact with the fighter jets.
The U.S. is concerned the S-400 could be used to gather data on F-35 capabilities if Turkey has both.