Amid talks between Turkey and the United States concerning the potential purchase of American F-16s and the modernization of up to 80 Turkish warplanes, Ankara may purchase the latest generation of Russian fighters if the deal falls through, the Head of Turkey’s Defense Industry Ismail Demir said Monday.
Turkey was expelled from the US F-35 program for purchasing a Russian S-400 missile defense system, and the current talks are an effort to replace the withdrawn aircraft.
Demir said that if Turkey can not reach an agreement with Washington on an F-16 deal it is still willing to consider purchasing SU-35 and SU-57 fighters from Russia.
“If the United States does not approve a deal on the F-16s after the situation with F-35 aircraft, Turkey won’t be left without alternatives. The issue of Su-35 and Su-57 planes may surface again at any time,” Turkish television channel NTV quoted the official as saying.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed on Sunday that the US could sell F-16 fighters to Turkey after excluding Ankara from the development of the F-35 fifth-generation fighter, following its purchase of Russian S-400 air defense missile systems.
Ankara and Moscow signed an agreement in 2017 for the purchase of the Russian-made air defense systems, making Turkey the first NATO country to request the military technology.
The move angered the US and NATO, while Washington continues trying to persuade Ankara to abandon the deal.