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World

WASHINGTON 07. 06. 2019.   >>  18:04 0

WASHINGTON

US won't train any more Turkish pilots as Ankara refuses to ditch S-400

Amid escalating threats to boot Turkey from its stealth fighter jet program over its purchase of Russia's S-400 air defense systems, Washington will reportedly stop accepting Turkish pilots for F-35 training.

The US has decided to stop accepting new pilots as part of the training program with Turkey, Reuters reports, citing officials. Currently, four pilots and 47 personnel are undergoing training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, where they are taught how to maintain and steer the fifth-generation jets.

It is understood that the Trump administration has not yet made up its mind whether to limit the training program to the Turkish personal already in the US, or to put in on hold altogether. It was reported last week that the US was "seriously considering" suspending all training for the Turkish servicemen as Ankara sticks to its $2.5-billion deal with Moscow, paying little heed to Washington's ultimatums.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said last Friday that the US would prefer to settle the differences between the "strategic partners" through negotiations, rather than just send its pilots back in a tit-for-tat response.

Turkey offered to create a working group with the US to try to reach a compromise, but Washington has made it clear it wants Ankara to buy American Patriot systems instead of Russian systems. Turkey has insisted it's choosing what is better for its national defense, and the US' 'consolation' offer is no match for the Russian one.

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