Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan did not rule out that Ankara could acquire Russian Su-57 or Su-35 fighters instead of American F-35s. He made such a statement in an interview with NTV, answering a question from a journalist about whether the possibility of buying Russian aircraft is being considered.
"Why not? We didn’t come in vain (at the MAKS-2019 air show. - RT ). After we find out the final decision of the USA (by F-35. - RT ), we will take our own steps. We have no concern not the topic of what will happen if this does not work out. All will be. The market where we can provide ourselves with what we need is large, ”RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.
Erdogan added that the final decision will be made after telephone conversations on this subject with US President Donald Trump.
Interestingly, the leaders of Turkey and the United States have already phoned. However, according to the Erdogan administration, during the course of the conversation, "bilateral relations and the situation in Syria" were discussed. Whether the issue of fighter supplies was raised is not known.
In turn, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu noted that Ankara is ready to consider an alternative option for the purchase of modern fighters if Washington realizes the intention to “detach” Turkey from the F-35 project.
“We are still one of nine participants in the fifth-generation F-35 aircraft creation program and have already transferred $ 1.4 billion under it. The American side today creates a number of problems for Ankara on this issue. Turkey is ready to purchase the F-35 and produces a number of components for this aircraft. If it doesn’t work out with the F-35, then we will seek a replacement, although we do not strive for this scenario, ”Anadolu quoted Erdogan as saying.
Commenting on Turkey’s possible purchase of Russian fighter jets, military expert and editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine Viktor Murakhovsky noted that such cooperation implies a long-term partnership that is beneficial for Moscow. The interlocutor RT also admitted that we can talk about the participation of Russian enterprises and specialists in the development of the Turkish fifth-generation fighter.
“The advantage is clear: this is a long-term military-technical cooperation, we know such examples, for example, military-technical cooperation with India on joint production and projects. This is not the only option. In the conversations of the Turkish delegation, they mentioned the possibility of Russia's participation in the production of a promising fifth-generation Turkish aircraft, which they presented as mockups a couple of years ago, but their development is moving quite difficult, ”he said.
The head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) Dmitry Shuvaev spoke about the readiness to discuss with Turkey joint work on the fifth-generation TFX fighter project on the fields of MAKS-2019.
“Turkey has a TFX project and we are part of industrial cooperation, we are ready to discuss these topics with them. Moreover, the leaders of our countries expressed a desire to expand cooperation in the defense industry. Our country and our industry are basically ready, ”said Shuvaev.
The head of the FSVTS added that regarding the possible deliveries of Ankara Su-57 and Su-35, it is too early to talk about any kind of contract negotiations. However, Shuvaev noted that he would soon hold talks with his Turkish counterpart, the head of the Turkish President’s Defense Industry Ismail Demir.
“We are ready for this”
Recall the other day Erdogan visited the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2019 in Zhukovsky near Moscow, where he met with Vladimir Putin. During the talks, the leaders discussed cooperation in various fields, including military.
“From the point of view of combat aircraft, yes, we talked about cooperation on the Su-35 and on the possible work even on the new Su-57 aircraft. We have many opportunities, ”Putin said at a press conference following the talks. - A lot, in my opinion, interested our Turkish partners, not only in terms of acquisition, but also in terms of joint production. By the way, we are ready for this and will now actively discuss this with partners in certain areas. ”
At the moment, a contract is being implemented between the countries for the supply of four divisions of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems. The first batch was delivered from July 12 to July 25, now the second stage is being delivered. With the beginning of autumn, the Turkish military will begin training on the operation of air defense systems - it should end by January. According to Erdogan, the Turkish side expects to start operating the systems and plans by April 2020.
The $ 2.5 billion agreement provides not only for supply, but also for partial transfer of S-400 production technologies. Erdogan noted that successful experience in the implementation of this contract can be applied in other areas of military cooperation between Russia and Turkey.
“We want to extend our solidarity in this area to all other areas of the defense industry. It can also be for military aircraft. The most important thing is that we maintain an atmosphere of solidarity in this area and spread it across missiles and in various areas of the defense industry, ”the Turkish President emphasized.
Neither Patriot nor F-35
It is worth noting that before the conclusion of the S-400 contract, Ankara intended to acquire an American-made Patriot air defense system, but Washington refused to enter into an agreement. US President Donald Trump called this move an unfair decision, which was made by his predecessor Barack Obama.
At the same time, according to Trump, the purchase of S-400 is incompatible with the further participation of Turkey in the F-35 program. The fifth-generation American fighter was developed with the participation of Washington's partners, including Turkey.
Commenting on this position, Ankara called these conditions unacceptable and reaffirmed adherence to the contract with Moscow. According to experts, the United States will not abandon its decision to exclude Turkey from the F-35 program.
The policy pursued by Washington only encourages Ankara to cooperate with Moscow, said the military political scientist, head of the Department of Political Science and Sociology of the REU named after Plekhanova Andrey Koshkin.
“The situation is very mixed. Its ambiguity is connected with the position of Washington in relation to Turkey. The United States itself is pushing Turkey into the arms of Russia, to resolve issues that would ensure strong interaction with Russia, including in the field of military-technical cooperation. Of course, they authoritatively stated that there would be no joint actions on the F-35, ”he said in a conversation with RT.
In turn, Viktor Murakhovsky noted that in addition to the S-400 contract between Russia and Turkey, there were other agreements on cooperation in the military sphere.
“And before Erdogan there were contracts for the supply of weapons to Turkey, it’s just that I don’t remember about that amid large contracts for $ 2.5 billion. Nevertheless, we delivered anti-tank guided missile systems, armored personnel carriers, and small arms to Turkey. The very fact of military-technical cooperation was, and the experience was quite successful. If it works with airplanes, especially if Turkey will participate in production, this opens up prospects for decades to come, ”the analyst added.