This is a showdown that’s been in the making for at least two years. The Tyrant of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a man who is allegedly one of our allies, has been negotiating with Moscow to purchase their S-400 guided missile system for some time now. One of the many problems with this very bad idea is that the system isn’t compatible with the rest of the NATO hardware and software in use around the region. Another issue is that NATO is supposedly providing a bulwark against possible Russian aggression, not acting in support of them.

At the same time, Turkey would also like to purchase 100 of our F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets. These incompatible goals have led the White House to set a deadline of July 31st for Turkey to cancel their deal with Russia or they will not be able to purchase our fighters. And since no progress has been made, the Pentagon just announced that they are beginning the process of “unwinding” Turkey from the F-35 Fighter program. (Government Executive)

The Pentagon has started the process of removing Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and has drawn up plans to shift the NATO ally’s manufacturing roles to American and allied manufacturers, U.S. defense officials said Friday.

Washington has given Ankara a deadline: by July 31, Turkey must cancel its order of Russian S-400 missile interceptors — or lose its right to buy 100 F-35s and make parts for even more of the high-tech jets, Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord told reporters on Friday.

“As we have very clearly communicated at all levels, Turkey will not receive the F-35 if Turkey takes delivery of the S-400 system,” Lord said. “Thus we need to begin unwinding Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program.”

The Pentagon spokeswoman has brought up another disturbing and very pertinent point. If Turkey winds up with both the Russian missile system and our F-35s, they can use the radar capabilities of the S-400 to scan their own F-35s and ship the data off to Moscow, allowing them to develop better ways of taking down our planes. I would go one step further and suggest that they could begin digging around in the jets to learn secrets valuable to the Russians. For that matter, particularly given how erratic Erdogan can be, they might just “lose” one of our fighters someplace where the Russians could recover it.

When previously threatened with the cancellation of the jet sale, Erdogan quickly responded by saying that if that was the case, he would simply begin shopping for new jets from the Russians as well. And he’s doing all of this in spite of the fact that we’ve offered to sell him our NATO-compatible Patriot missile defense system to use instead of the S-400s. This guy has been given every opportunity possible to make a reasonable deal and he’s basically spitting in our eyes.

Erdogan earns some minor points for finally releasing Pastor Andrew Brunson, but he took far too long to do it. Other than that, he’s basically collapsed any claim to being an ally of ours. He’s either going to go through with the purchase of the S-400s or he’s going to demand a ridiculous pound of flesh in exchange for doing the right thing. Personally, I think we should just cancel the sale of the F-35s to him right now and be done with it. The Tyrant of Turkey simply cannot be trusted.