If Turkey can’t buy F-35 fighter jets from the US, it will look for a substitute elsewhere, the Turkish foreign minister said.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that his country might consider other options if Washington follows through with its threats and leave it without F-35 stealth fighter jets.
“We are already partners in the F-35 manufacturing program, we participate in this project, we have paid the necessary amount. There are currently no problems with this,” he said. “But in the worst case scenario, we will have to satisfy our need in another place, where the best technologies will be offered.”
Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Turkish diplomat said that Ankara had no intention to hand over its Russian S-400 systems to Qatar and Azerbaijan. “Why do we buy S-400? Because we have an urgent need for an air defense system,” Cavusoglu added.
The US has threatened to freeze the delivery and terminate Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program altogether if it does not scrap the deal for the purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense complexes, while voicing concerns that it can harm NATO’s interoperability and compromise the security of the F-35s.
Separately on Tuesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed that his country was unfazed by the US threats and would put a “plan B” into action should the US terminate the F-35 deal.
“We have short-term, medium-term and long-term plans,” he said.
Akar further pointed out that four Turkish pilots were currently receiving training on the F-35 fighter jets and that two more were preparing to join the program. In total, he added, 35 to 40 personnel were in training.