Washington once proposed that Turkiye send to Ukraine the S-400 missile defense system it bought from Russia but which the US objected to, but Ankara refused this proposal, said the Turkish foreign minister.
As it claimed the S-400 system had to exclude Türkiye from the F-35 fighter jet program, the US proposed to Turkiye that it give control of the system to the US or another country, including Ukraine, as it tries to fight off Russian forces, said Mevlut Cavusoglu.
“The US asked us to send the S-400s to Ukraine, and we said no,” he said, explaining that these proposals were unacceptable as they sought to infringe Turkish sovereignty.
Turkish officials have repeatedly said that the nation bought the S-400s as a matter of national security and no other country has the right to interfere with this.
In 2017, when its protracted efforts to buy an air defense system from the US proved futile, Turkiye signed a contract with Russia to acquire the state-of-art S-400 system.
US officials expressed opposition to their deployment, claiming the S-400 would be incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkiye, however, stressed that the S-400s would not be integrated into NATO systems and pose no threat to the alliance or its armaments. Ankara has repeatedly proposed setting up a commission to clarify the issue.
Asked about returning to the F-35 program, Cavusoglu said Ankara does not want to return to the program but rather wants back from Washington the money it paid for fighter jets before it was out of the program, while its jets were never delivered.
Ankara is now “producing our own national combat aircraft,” he explained, adding that Turkiye also wants to improve ties with the US and that the necessary mechanisms have been established towards this end.
But Turkiye also wants to buy F-16 jets and modernization kits from the US, he added, mentioning how the request is not moving as fast through Washington as it should.
Ankara requested F-16s and modernization kits from the US in October 2021. The $6 billion deal would include 40 jets and modernization kits for 79 warplanes that the Turkish Air Force already has in its inventory.