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02:15 PM, March 14, 2019
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F-35 fighter jet (Image: Lockheed Martin)

Turkey is expecting the delivery of the F-35 fighter jets from the United States in November, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.

"Despite some statements, F-35 process goes smoothly; our pilots, maintenance team continue training in the US," Akar was quoted as saying by Anadolu Agency during a luncheon with top Turkish generals in the capital Ankara on Wednesday.

"We expect delivery of F-35s in November to the [eastern] Malatya province, relevant preparations for infrastructure were completed," Akar added.

He was accompanied with the Chief of Staff Yasar Guler, Land Forces Commander Umit Dundar, Naval Forces Commander Adnan Ozbal and Air Forces Commander Hasan Kucukakyuz at the luncheon.

"In our visit to the US, they told us that Turkey is one of the countries that has fully fulfilled its responsibilities, both financial and other pledges,” Akar said.

The defense chief added that Turkey continues to do its part in designing and manufacturing some parts of the F-35s.

Earlier this month, the United States threatened to cancel Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program and also impose sanctions on it if Ankara persists on its planned purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems.

Akar on Tuesday, said that Turkey will be deploying the S-400 missile defense systems in October this year.

Akar said Turkey has a clear stance over the procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defense system.

As an issue for Turkey since the end of the 1990’s, Turkey’s search for an air and missile defense system accelerated in 2011 due to threats around, Akar said.

After NATO stationed patriots from the U.S., Germany, and the Netherlands each at Turkey’s request, they left Turkey after one-and-a-half year period on duty, he stated.

“So, everybody saw that we cannot keep our survival relying on temporary measures, and we should acquire it [air defense system], Akar said.

Upon this, Turkey systematized its current search, criteria were determined and negotiations began, he added.

Akar said Turkey’s main criteria was to acquire the technology, production, modernization and export rights of the systems that it purchases.

Russia responded positively to these demands and the agreement was signed for the purchase of the S-400 missile defense system after negotiations, he said.

On the letters sent to NATO and the US for the supply of air defense systems, Akar said that the US got back to Turkey 17 months later.

"We haven't parted ways with NATO. We fully fulfill our commitments to NATO. However, our national security concerns cannot be ignored," said Akar.

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