Turkey to seek alternative to F-35 if denied fighter jets

Turkey will seek alternatives if it does not receive the U.S. F-35 fighter jets, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said on Wednesday. 

Turkey is in urgent need of the F-35 stealth fighters and Ankara had to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, state-run Anadolu news agency quoted Çavuşoglu as saying at a joint news conference with his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu in the capital Tallinn.

Çavuşoğlu said buying an alternative would not be Turkey’s preference, but that “some problems” caused by the United States could force its hand.

The United States last month expelled Turkey from the F-35 programme following its procurement of the Russian-made S-400 air defence systems. U.S. officials say the S-400 is incompatible with U.S. and NATO defences and have repeatedly threatened Turkey with sanctions that can be imposed under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) if it installs the Russian system.

Ankara has said the S-400 would not be integrated into the NATO systems and therefore would not pose any threat to NATO or its armaments.

“The United States is causing some problems these days, however, Turkey is still part of this nine-partner F-35 program,’’ Çavuşoğlu said. “It wants to buy F-35s.’’ 

Meanwhile, Turkey and Russia have discussed a possible purchase of Russian-made Su-35 or Su-57 fighter jets to Turkey. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan examined the new-generation Su-57 fighters with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at an air show near Moscow on Tuesday.

Ankara began considering the Russian Su-35s following Washington’s decision last month to halt the delivery of the F-35 stealth fighter jets to Turkey.