- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2019

Turkey has finalized a controversial deal to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile system, announcing weapon deliveries could begin as soon as July — in the face of American threats to kick the NATO nation out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

“Turkey has already bought S-400 defense systems. It is a done deal. I hope these systems will be delivered to our country next month,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday during a speech in Ankara.

The announcement comes days after Pentagon officials terminated training programs for Turkish pilots aboard the F-35, the most advanced fighter jet the U.S. has ever deployed.

President Erdogan said the decision to cancel the training program and threaten Turkey with expulsion from the F-35 program was made “without rationale or legitimacy.” The Turkish leader plans to discuss the issue with Pentagon officials and U.S. diplomats before he meets Mr. Trump at the G-20 summit in Japan at the end of the month.

State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism Amb Nathan Sales has been in talks with his Turkish counterparts on regional terrorism issues since Monday.

• Carlo Muñoz can be reached at cmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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