Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned Washington that it will pay the price for refusing to supply Turkey with the US-made advanced F-35 fighter jets.
“Regarding the F-16s, we want these from you, but you haven’t given it. [Originally you were going to supply] F-35, but you didn’t keep your word. Although we paid about $1.4Bln, you gave nothing in return. If you give nothing in return, then this will pay the consequences,” Erdogan was quoted by a Turkish media outlet as saying.
His remarks come in the wake of a statement made by Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier this month that Ankara is awaiting US approval for F-16 fighters to be supplied to Turkey.
Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, who serves as the chairman of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (SCFR), has already said in a statement that he “strongly” opposes “the Biden administration’s proposed sale of new F-16 aircraft to Turkey”.
“Until Erdogan ceases his threats, improves his human rights record at home… and begins to act like a trusted ally, I will not approve this sale,” Menendez insisted.
Reportedly valued at $20Bln, the F-16 deal comprises 40 new fighters and 79 upgrade kits, something that requires the approval of the State Department, the SCFR and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Last year, a Turkish newspaper reported that Ankara might consider buying the fourth-generation Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters if the deal on buying the F-16s falls through.
In December 2022, the US Congress blocked articles related to restrictions on the sale of the F-16 jets in its annual defense spending bill for the 2023 financial year, amid State Department efforts to convince lawmakers that the deal was aligned with Washington’s interests.
The row between the US and Turkey, which resulted in Ankara’s removal from the F-35 program, started after the Turkish government decided to buy Russian-made S-400 missile defense 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 in October 2021 that the Russian air defenses pose no threat to US or NATO security, Erdogan announced that the US had suggested that Turkey procure the fourth generation of the F-16 fighter jets instead of the fifth-generation F-35s.
Russia and Turkey signed a $2.5Bln 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 in 2020.
Source: Sputnik news agency