Turkish Foreign Minister Mouloud Shawishoglu said Wednesday that Ankara would find an alternative to F-35 fighter jets if the United States refused to hand over the plane to Turkey because of the purchase of Russian air defense systems S-400.
“There are F-35s, but there are also aircraft manufactured in Russia. If we can not buy F-35s, Turkey will buy similar aircraft from other countries “Turkish television channel NTV quoted Shawish Oglu as saying.
The United States has made many controversial statements about Turkey’s future participation in the F-35 program, he said, adding that a total of four of the nearly 100 aircraft the country plans to buy have been received.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced that Washington had halted deliveries because of Ankara’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the United States have criticized Russian-Turkish cooperation on the S-400, citing security concerns and the inability to integrate S-400 air defense systems and NATO systems.
Ankara, for its part, said buying military equipment is a sovereign matter and ruled out abandoning its plans. The first shipment of S-400 air defense systems is expected to be delivered to Ankara in July.