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Turkey to buy Russia fighter jets if the US fails to deliver F-16s, Turkish defence head says

Turkey's Defense Industries Presidency (SSB) Head, Ismail Demir on December 21, 2020 [Arda Küçükkaya/Anadolu Agency]
Turkey's Defense Industries Presidency (SSB) Head, Ismail Demir on December 21, 2020 [Arda Küçükkaya/Anadolu Agency]

The head of Turkey's Defence Industry, Ismail Demir, has said that Turkey is still keeping its options open to considering the purchase of Russian Su-35 fighter jets, in the case that the United States refuses an agreement to deliver F-16 fighter jets.

According to Turkey's NTV news channel, Demir stated today that "If the United States does not approve a deal on the F-16s after the situation with F-35 aircraft, Turkey won't be left without alternatives. The issue of Su-35 and Su-57 planes may surface again at any time."

Over the past few weeks, Ankara has been attempting to secure the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets from Washington, as an alternative to the F-35 fighter jets which Turkey has already paid $1.4 billion for.

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The US removed Turkey from the F-35 joint program in 2019 in response to Ankara's purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defence system. Since then, Turkey has attempted to get back into the program by lobbying the US government, but to no avail.

Reports then recently emerged this month that the US has, instead, offered the less advanced F-16 jets to Turkey, paid for with the payment that it already invested in the F-35 jets. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed those reports over the weekend, saying that "we are working to further develop our fleet from the modernisation of the F-16s in our possession to new additional F-16 purchases."

So far, the deal looks set to be agreed upon and to go ahead, with the US government further approving and backing it. However, it is expected to be finalised and confirmed after Erdogan holds a meeting with US President Joe Biden at the upcoming G20 summit in Rome at the end of this month.

READ: Turkey releases new drone after it's removed from F-35 programme

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