US suspends F-35 deliveries to Turkey over Russian arms

A US soldier guards a US F35 stealth aircraft. (File photo/AFP)
Updated 02 April 2019

US suspends F-35 deliveries to Turkey over Russian arms

WASHINGTON: The United States has halted delivery of equipment related to the stealthy F-35 fighter aircraft to Turkey, sources familiar with the situation said, marking the first concrete US step to block delivery of the jet to the NATO ally in light of Ankara’s planned purchase of a Russian missile defense system.
In recent days, US officials told their Turkish counterparts they will not receive further shipments of F-35 related equipment needed to prepare for the arrival of the stealthy jet, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters. The aircraft is built by Lockheed Martin Corp.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the next shipment of training equipment, and all subsequent shipments of F-35 related material, have been canceled.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has refused to back down from Ankara’s planned purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system that the United States has said would compromise the security of F-35 aircraft. Turkey has said it will take delivery of the S-400s in July.
The disagreement over the F-35 is the latest of a series of diplomatic disputes between the United States and Turkey including Turkish demands that the United States extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, differences over Middle East policy and the war in Syria, and sanctions on Iran.
A Pentagon official had told Reuters in March that the United States had a number of items it could withhold in order to send Turkey a signal that the United States was serious about Ankara dropping its ambition to own the S-400.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Turkish officials in Ankara were not immediately available for comment.
The US decision on the F-35s was expected to complicate Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s planned visit to Washington this week for a NATO summit. The latest development in the F-35 dispute came a day after Erdogan suffered one of his biggest electoral losses in decades in local elections.
Reuters reported last week that Washington was exploring whether it could remove Turkey from production of the F-35. Turkey makes parts of the fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays. Sources familiar with the F-35’s intricate worldwide production process and US thinking on the issue last week said Turkey’s role can be replaced.
The United States and other NATO allies that own F-35s fear the radar on the Russian S-400 missile system will learn how to spot and track the jet, making it less able to evade Russian weapons in the future.
In an attempt to persuade Turkey to drop its plans to buy the S-400, the United States offered the pricier American-made Patriot anti-missile system in a discounted deal that expired at the end of March. Turkey has shown interest in the Patriot system, but not at the expense of abandoning the S-400.
Turkey has engaged with US negotiators in recent days about buying the Patriot system, a person familiar with the matter said. The system is made by Raytheon Co.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar in March said that despite some issues, Turkish pilots were continuing their training at an air base in Arizona on the F-35, each of which costs $90 million, and that Ankara was expecting the aircraft to arrive in Turkey in November.
US lawmakers also have expressed alarm over Turkey’s planned purchase of the Russian system. Four US senators last week introduced a bipartisan bill that would prohibit the transfer of F-35s to Turkey until the US government certifies that Ankara will not take delivery of the S-400 system.


Scores of civilians tortured to death in Houthi prisons in Yemen

The report documented 170 deaths - including nine children - from September 2014 to December 2018 in jails run by the Iran-backed militia. (File/AFP)
Updated 5 min 8 sec ago

Scores of civilians tortured to death in Houthi prisons in Yemen

  • The report highlighted 455 cases of torture committed by the Houthis
  • Houthis were responsible for the disappearance of more than 3,500 people

DUBAI: Scores of civilians, including women, children and the elderly have been tortured to death in Houthi prisons over four years, a human rights organization has revealed.

The Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations documented 170 deaths - including nine children - from September 2014 to December 2018 in jails run by the Iran-backed militia.

The report, which was revealed at the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council, in Geneva, Switzerland also highlighted 455 cases of torture committed by the Houthis.

It was revealed last week that the Houthis were also responsible for the disappearance of more than 3,500 people in the same time period.

Those missing include 64 children, 15 women and 72 elderly people.