The United States expelled Turkey from its F-35 program after Ankara opted to purchase Russia’s S-400 air defense system. Experts believe that Turkey can now look to buy its military aircraft from Russia.
The president of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, Mustafa Şentop, said earlier this week that Turkey can buy Su-35 and Su-57 fighter planes under favorable conditions after the U.S. expelled him from its F-35 poaching program.
During the MAKS-2019 International Aviation and Space Show in Zhukovsky outside Moscow last month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw Russian Su-35, Su-57 and MiG-35 planes as part of the show. He then told the media that Su-35s or Su-57s could replace Lockheed’s F-35s after Washington blocked their delivery following Turkey’s decision to purchase Russia’s S-400 air defense system.
A member of Turkey’s Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Council, professor of law at Yeditepe University, professor of international relations at the Turkish Air Force Academy in Istanbul, Mesut Hakki Casin, commented on Turkey’s further development of aviation technical cooperation with Russia and the United States in an interview.
“At present, Turkey is in the stage of making a very serious decision. One of the reasons for this is the fact that the United States refused to deliver F-35 fighter planes even though Turkey has paid the money in full. It is known that this US position is related to Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 systems. In the meantime, this is contrary to international law because in one case we are talking about air defence systems, in the other we are talking about a military aircraft. In addition, Turkey is legally one of the manufacturers of F-35 aircraft,” he said.
“During his recent visit to Russia, President Erdogan paid special attention to the discussion of two important issues: the purchase of the Su-35 and the implementation of projects for the joint production of fifth-generation Su-57 aircraft. Experts from the Turkish Armed Forces, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other competent authorities are currently studying these issues. At the same time, Turkey is defending its rights for the delivery of F-35 while continuing to negotiate with the United States on this issue. If the United States continues to refuse to transfer combat aircraft to Turkey, it will make a final decision on the purchase of the Su-35 and the joint production of the Su-57. Moreover, in this case, Turkey will probably never again buy US aircraft. Similarly, after Britain confiscated the Turkish battleships Sultan Osman and Reşadiye during World War I, Turkey no longer bought ships, planes or any military equipment from them,” Casin added.
Speaking of the success of Russian technology at the Istanbul Teknofest 2019 Technology and Aerospace Festival, the expert said:
“Turkish experts greatly appreciated the Su-35’s manoeuvrability and, in general, showed great interest in Russian military and civilian aircraft. President Erdogan is expected to attend the festival on Friday. Overall, we can say with confidence that the cooperation between Turkey and Russia in the economy, aviation and space has reached a qualitatively new level,” he concluded.
In turn, the Turkish economist Şevket Apuhan, commenting on possible agreements in the field of aviation between Turkey and Russia, pointed out that Russia “is the main country in cooperation with which Turkey can develop modern technologies and establish national production of equipment”.
According to Apuhan, Turkey’s expulsion from the F-35 program is “a great blessing for him, as every dollar the U.S. receives for selling military equipment is used to supply heavy weapons to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization in Turkey). In this situation, Turkey, thinking that it provides its security, actually becomes very vulnerable with its own hands. On this basis, ending the security costs that enter the US pocket is also an important strategic step. President Erdogan’s statement during a visit to Russia about the possibility of buying Russian military aircraft can be seen as a message to the United States and the entire world community. Cooperation with Russia will help strengthen Turkey’s position in this area and guarantee the independence of the United States, which supports hostile Turkish (Kurdish) groups along its southern border,” he concluded.