Earlier in October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Washington had offered Ankara to purchase F-16 jets after Ankara was excluded from the F-35 Lightning II Programme.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Wednesday that the Ankara-Washington row over F-35 fighter jets would be high on the agenda of his upcoming talks with US counterpart Joe Biden in Glasgow.
“It seems that the agenda in Rome and Glasgow has changed. Most likely, our meeting will be held not in Rome, but in Glasgow. And at it, of course, the most important topic will be the situation with the F-35”, Erdogan stressed.
The Turkish president recalled that Ankara earlier paid $1.4 billion for the F-35 warplanes.
According to him, “as far as this payment is concerned, we will have to discuss what to do about it” and “what the plan will be for repayment of this sum [from the US]”.
The remarks come after Turkish Presidency of Defence Industries chief Ismail Demir said earlier this month that Ankara could buy Russia’s Su-35 and Su-57 fighters if the US freezes the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
“If the process [F-16 purchase and upgrade] does not bring results, then Turkey will not be left without alternatives. If necessary, the topic of Su-35s and Su-57s can be opened at any time. Our industry will do everything to ensure our security, and if something extra is needed, then we can always find a way out”, Demir pointed out.
The statement followed President Erdogan saying that Washington had invited Ankara to purchase the F-16 fighter jets as a return for its investment in the F-35 programme.
This was preceded by the Turkish presidential office stating that Ankara would consider adding more F-16s to its air fleet in place of the more advanced F-35s after Turkey was removed from the joint strike fighter programme.
The row between the US and Turkey, which resulted in Ankara’s removal from the F-35 programme, started after the Turkish government decided to purchase Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems. In response, Washington cancelled the sale of the F-35 jets to Turkey over claims that it could leak military secrets to Russia.
The US put off the delivery of the F-35 jets to its NATO partner in July 2019 over “security concerns” pertaining to the S-400 systems. Washington argued that the S-400s could detect vulnerabilities in the F-35s and transmit the data to Moscow. Turkey, however, insisted the Russian air defences pose no threat to the US or NATO security.
Russia and Turkey signed a $2.5 billion deal for the delivery of four S-400 batteries in December 2017. The delivery of all components of the S-400 air defence missile systems to Turkey was completed last year.