Despite intense pressure from Washington and the US Senate’s decision to suspend the sale of the F-35 fighter jets, Turkey remains all set to buy S-400 air defense systems from Russia.
Ankara is considering alternatives to the US-made F-35 fifth-generation fighter-bombers that the US has backed away from supplying to the Turkish Air Force, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.
“The United States’ ill-advised policy towards its strategic NATO ally could backfire against America itself,” Turkish President Recep Erdogan remarked, as reported by the TV channel A Haber.
Mentioning the $800 million Turkey has already paid for the delivery of the F-35s, he said that he hoped that President Donald Trump will override the Senate ban.
He added that Turkey was now developing its own fighter aircraft.
Tensions Over S-400 Supplies
Relations between Ankara and Washington soured after Turkey signed a loan deal with Russia last December for the supply of two batteries of S-400 air defense missile systems.
Russia also agreed to provide technological know-how for the production of a new generation of Turkish air defense systems.
Washington has voiced serious worries about Ankara’s push to buy Russian S-400 missile systems, warning that it is not interoperable with NATO and US military equipment.
Some US lawmakers and military officials also fear that if Turkey uses the highly advanced US jets alongside the S-400 systems, Russia could be able to pick up sensitive technical data on the F-35’s capabilities.
On Monday, the US Senate voted 85 to 10 to include a provision targeting Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Nevertheless, Turkey did receive the first two F-35 jets from the US at a delivery ceremony at Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday.
Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base serves as a main hub for US military operations in the region and houses a stockpile of dozens of American tactical nuclear weapons, according to Hurriyet Daily News.
Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party face an election on June 24.