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Russia would be Turkey’s ‘first best choice’ for fighter jets if its F-35 plan flops
By: Burak Ege Bekdil   19.04.2019

As part of an ongoing spat between the U.S. and Turkey, parts deliveries for the F-35 have stopped.

ANKARA, Turkey — If U.S. officials were to expel Turkey from the multinational group that builds the F-35 Lightning II, Turkish defense officials said they likely would pursue Russian fighter jet technology.

“We cannot afford to leave the F-35 not substituted,” a senior military officer told Defense news. He declined to comment on the replacement options, as this would require “technological, economical and political deliberations.”

But a defense procurement official said “geostrategic assessment” would make Russian options emerge as the natural first replacement. “Russian fighter technology would the first best choice if our American allies behaved in an un-allied way and questioned Turkey’s membership in the Joint Strike Fighter program,” he said.

Washington has threatened to expel Ankara from the multinational program if Turkey deploys the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile system on its soil.

If Turkey accepts the S-400, “no F-35s will ever reach Turkish soil. And Turkish participation in the F-35 program, including manufacturing parts, repairing and servicing the fighters, will be terminated, taking Turkish companies out of the manufacturing and supply chain for the program,” wrote a group of bipartisan lawmakers from the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced a freeze on deliveries and activities with Turkey in relation to the F-35 program over Ankara’s decision to buy the S-400. Turkey insists the first S-400 shipments would arrive in July and the first S-400 system would become operational in September.

A Turkish presidential source said that potential Turkish-Russian cooperation on fighter technology was “preliminarily discussed” between their respective defense officials during Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Moscow on April 8.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavusoglu told broadcaster NTV on Apri 10: “There are F-35, but there are also aircraft manufactured in Russia. If we are not able to purchase [the] F-35, Turkey will buy similar aircraft from other countries. And this will continue until we start producing our own fifth-generation fighter jets.”

Such a move would make Turkey the only NATO member to simultaneously use the S-400 and Russian fighter.

“This is not a useful dispute for the alliance,” asserted an Ankara-based European Union military attache. “What we observe today could push Turkey further into Russia’s military orbit … and we don’t want that.”

Earlier this month, Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky visited Turkey to discuss the possibility of co-production efforts.

However, Russia’s isn’t the only alternative for the F-35. In 2015, Turkey’s procurement authorities released a request for information for the TF-X, the country’s indigenous fighter jet program. Sweden’s Saab was one of the bidders to supply know-how for the initial design phase of the program, but Ankara selected Britain’s BAE Systems for that contract.

“Saab’s commitment to technology transfer was very generous, but its price was expensive at the time,” a Turkish official recalled. “Saab could now revise its bid and incorporate it into the new [no F-35] situation,” he said.

Another option for Turkey is Airbus, a partner in the Eurofighter program based in the Netherlands and France, the official added.

Russia would be Turkey’s ‘first best choice’ for fighter jets if its F-35 plan flops
 

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Turkish firms see IDEF as chance to pitch locally made systems for export
By: Burak Ege Bekdil  19.04.2019

The Turkish attack plane Hurkus-C and missiles are displayed during the 2017 International Defence Industry Fair in Istanbul. (Yasin Akgul/AFP via Getty Images)

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s most prominent defense and aerospace exhibition is set to showcase several indigenous Turkish systems to foreign buyers.

“New Turkish systems will dominate the show this year, with their producers seeking to win new export contracts,” a senior defense procurement official said of the International Defence Industry Fair taking place in Istanbul April 30-May 3. “New export deals will be the main motive for Turkish manufacturers.”

A Turkish defense analyst said this year’s show will highlight aerospace systems, including drones, a new fighter jet and an advanced jet trainer, plus naval systems and a locally made new-generation battle tank.

Turkey’s state-controlled defense entities Aselsan, a defense electronics specialist, and missile-maker Roketsan will be the leading exhibitors. Aselsan and Roketsan are co-partners in an ambitious program to build Turkey’s first long-range air and anti-missile defense system.

Over the past several years, Turkey’s local industry has sought to develop several armed and unarmed drone systems, as well as the country’s first indigenous fighter jet (TF-X), an advanced trainer jet (Hurkuş) and Turkey’s first indigenous tank (Altay).

In recent years, Turkey’s defense and aerospace industries reported an average export increase of 8 to 10 percent annually. Only in the past six years have defense and aerospace exports risen by 61 percent, while Turkey’s overall exports rose by 10.5 percent. Turkey’s defense and aerospace exports have risen from an annual $1.388 billion in 2013 to $2.035 billion in 2018. In January 2019 the sector reported $175 million worth of exports. This compares with sales growth from $5.076 billion in 2013 to $6.693 billion in 2017.

IDEF is expected to lure more than 900 local and foreign companies this year. Turkish officials also invited 144 foreign defense ministers and procurement officials as well as more than 400 foreign delegations.

In 2017, IDEF hosted 133 official delegations from 67 countries and 820 companies from 50 companies.

Recently, Turkish Aerospace Industries, which is the lead manufacturer on the TF-X and Hurkus programs, announced it will invest $181 million in a new composite plant, the world’s fourth-largest facility of its kind, in Kahramankazan near Ankara. TAI said it aims to meet 2 percent of the world’s overall aerial composite structures after its new plant becomes fully operational.

IDEF is set to kick off amid a row between NATO allies Turkey and the United States over the former’s quest to deploy the Russian-made S-400 air defense system on its soil.

The U.S. has threatened to expel Turkey from the multinational Joint Strike Fighter program that builds the F-35 fighter jet. Turkey is a member of the consortium that builds the F-35, and the local industry could lose up to $10 billion if the country is kicked out of the program.

If Turkey accepts the S-400, “no F-35s will ever reach Turkish soil. And Turkish participation in the F-35 program, including manufacturing parts, repairing and servicing the fighters, will be terminated, taking Turkish companies out of the manufacturing and supply chain for the program,” wrote a group of bipartisan lawmakers from the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In addition Turkey has been aggressively marketing the T129, a helicopter gunship produced by TAI under license from the Italian-British firm AgustaWestland. Last year, Turkey signed a $1.5 billion deal with Pakistan to sell 30 T129s. It is also in talks with the Philippines for the sale of eight attack helicopters.

Those and other potentially successful export deals for the T129 could be blocked amid the U.S.-Turkey dispute if the U.S. denies export licenses to the Turkish manufacturer. The T129 is powered by two LHTEC T800-4A turboshaft engines. The T800-4A is an export version of the CTS800 engine. LHTEC, which makes the engine, is a joint venture between the American company Honeywell and the British firm Rolls-Royce.


Turkish firms see IDEF as chance to pitch locally made systems for export
 

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Turkey advances Anka-Aksungur MALE UAV development
Kelvin Wong, Singapore - Jane's International Defence Review
17 April 2019


Turkish Aerospace carried out the first test flight of the Anka-Aksungur medium-altitude long-endurance UAV on 20 March. Source: Turkish Aerospace

Turkish Aerospace is expanding the testing envelope of its internally funded Anka-Aksungur medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV) development with the aim of pushing the air vehicle into series production by the first quarter of 2020, company sources told Jane's .

The company earlier announced that a prototype of the twin-engine air vehicle had successfully performed its maiden flight - which lasted 4 hours 20 minutes - on 20 March. The air vehicle also demonstrated its automatic take-off and landing capabilities, it added.

Jane's understands that a second test had been conducted on 3 April near Ankara, which had a duration of 3 hours and was aimed at expanding the prototype's flight testing envelope.

The Anka-Aksungur UAV features a twin-boom airframe design supported by a retractable undercarriage and incorporating forward-mounted PD170 twin-turbocharged engines developed by Tusaş Engine Industries (TEI) with input from General Electric, followed by a set of high-mounted wings with slight dihedral and terminating in vertical stabilisers joined by a horizontal tailplane.

Jane's earlier reported that the 2.1 litre, water-cooled inline-4 PD170 engine - equipped with three bladed propellers in a tractor configuration - has a dry weight of 170 kg and can develop and maintain an output of 120hp at up to 30,000 ft (9,144 m) and 170hp at up to 20,000 ft. TEI expects an engine growth potential of up to 210hp with only minor modifications.

The air vehicle also features an overall length and height of 12 m and 3 m, respectively, with a wingspan of 24 m. Each wing is equipped with an integral fuel tank and can accommodate up to three hardpoints. According to the source, this arrangement provides the air vehicle with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) "in excess" of 3,000 kg and a payload capacity of 750 kg.

https://www.janes.com/article/87973/turkey-advances-anka-aksungur-male-uav-development
 

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Turkey Interested in Other Russian Weaponry Apart From S-400s – Official
29.04.2019

The contract for Turkey to procure Russian air defence systems has been vehemently opposed by Washington, who is trying to convince Ankara to ditch it threatening the country with sanctions and freezing deliveries of F-35 fighters.

Head of Russian Defence Export firm (Rosoboronexport) Aleksandr Mikheev has shared that Turkey is showing interest in Russian weaponry apart from the S-400 air defence systems ordered by Ankara in December 2017. According to him, Ankara is also interested in other Russian air defences of various ranges, as well as anti-tank weaponry and other weapons stations.

Mikheev added that the two countries also have several joint ventures aimed at developing new state-of-the-art jets and helicopters, modules for armoured vehicles and maintenance for the equipment, previously sold to Ankara. He further stressed that due to the "constructive dialogue between the political leadership" of the two states, Russia and Turkey have managed to thwart foreign rivals' attempts to meddle in their bilateral military cooperation.

Rosoboronexport's CEO earlier reacted to reports that Turkey might be interested in buying Russian jets instead of American F-35s, saying that Moscow is ready to discuss such procurements with Ankara.

Turkey has been experiencing trouble in obtaining the F-35 jets it ordered since Ankara inked a contract with Moscow on the procurement of Russian S-400 air defence systems. The US authorities claim that the Russian system could gather info about the American jet and reveal its weaknesses to Moscow.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly stated that Ankara will not abandon the S-400 deal despite US pressure. He recalled that Turkey was willing to buy Patriot defence systems instead of Russian-made systems, but Washington had failed to provide a better deal than Moscow.

For its part, the US has reportedly halted all supplies of F-35-related parts to Ankara and threatened it with sanctions in case it obtains Russian S-400s. The situation has been further complicated by the fact that some of the F-35's parts are exclusively produced in Turkey, with the US reportedly considering plans to shift their production to Europe.

Turkey Interested in Other Russian Weaponry Apart From S-400s – Official
 

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A fire broke out aboard the Turkish Navy’s future landing helicopter dock (LHD) Anadolu at a shipyard in Tuzla, Istanbul, on April 30.

anadolu.jpg


Fire aboard the ship, which is being constructed by shipbuilder Sedef for the Turkish Navy, was contained by shipyard workers and firefighters.

No injuries or fatalities were reported in the incident, according to Turkish reports. The cause of the fire is yet to be determined.

TCG Anadolu is currently in dry dock and was expected to be launched in 2019. Depending on the extent of the damage sustained in the fire, the launch could potentially be delayed.


The contract for the design and transfer of technology agreement for the TCG Anadolu (L-408) was signed between the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries and Navantia in 2015.

While based on the Spanish LHD Juan Carlos I and Australian Canberra-class landing helicopter docks, TCG Anadolu will be registered as a light aircraft carrier by the Turkish Lloyd and is expected to be delivered to the navy in 2021.

With a displacement of 28,000 tonnes at full load and a length of 225 meters, the ship will have 6 landing spots on its deck and will carry up to 12 F-35B aircraft and 12 helicopters, depending on configuration.

 

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Ukraine to sell Turkey guided tank missiles
Thursday, May 02, 2019

The Ukrainian company SpetsTechnoExport has signed an agreement to sell Turkey 120 mm Konus guided tank missiles, Ukrinform reports. Production of the missiles will begin in the next few days. The relevant agreement was signed during the IDEF 2019 international defense exhibition in Istanbul.

“During the first stage of implementing the contract, we will supply 120 mm Konus guided missiles and guidance systems to integrate them with the primary Turkish combat tanks. Subsequently, as a result of a partial transfer of technology, the Ukrainian guided missiles will be produced at the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation’s facilities,” the Ukrainian company stated.

The initialing of the contract enabled the parties to agree on the price, time frames and other conditions for implementing the agreements.

“The completion of the signing procedure and the start of production of the export batches of missiles are scheduled for the next few weeks,” SpetsTechnoExport noted.

The state-owned company remarked that the advantages of collaborating with the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKEK) are the opportunity to supply weapons to the Turkish Armed Forces and also to increase the presence of Ukrainian products on other markets which use tanks with 120 mm guns and cooperate actively with the Turkish defense industry complex. Such markets include countries in the Middle East and South-East Asia.

The Konus guided missile was developed by the Ukrainian Luch Design Bureau for 120 mm tank guns, a NATO standard. The missile can hit targets up to 5 km away, significantly further than normal tank shells. The tandem warhead can destroy the dynamic protection of an enemy tank and penetrate up to 800 mm of armor.

Recently it was announced that the Polish company WB Electronics and the Ukrainian state-owned defense conglomerate UkrOboronProm are planning to develop a new intermediate-range aerial defense missile system. Roman Muszal, a representative of the Polish company, noted that Ukrainian P-27 intermediate range guided missiles will be used as the basis for the project. Most of the necessary elements have already been created, including the engine, the self-guiding warhead and the fuel.

 

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IDEF 2019: Otokar displays Akrep IIe electric armoured vehicle
Christopher F Foss, Istanbul
02 May 2019

p1745452_main - Copy.jpg

Otokar’s Akrep IIe technology demonstrator, shown for the first time at IDEF 2019. Source: Otokar

Key Points
  • Otokar has displayed at IDEF 2019 the Akrep IIe, Turkey's first electric armoured vehicle
  • The overall Akrep II design can accommodate a variety of powerpacks and mission systems

Using independent research and development funding Turkey's Otokar has developed a prototype of the Akrep IIe technology demonstrator, Turkey's first electric armoured vehicle. The platform was shown for the first time at IDEF 2019, held in Istanbul from 30 April to 3 May.

The Akrep IIe features a powerful electric motor integrated to the axle coupled with an advanced battery pack and smart power-control algorithm.

According to Otokar its compact size, low silhouette, and low acoustic and thermal signatures make it ideal for reconnaissance missions.

The company said the modular Akrep II design allows it to accommodate not just different mission systems and weapons but also alternative powerplants. As well as being marketed with an electric drive system, the vehicle will also be marketed with a diesel powerpack or even a hybrid drive system.

The Akrep IIe shown at IDEF was what Otokar describes as a ‘light infantry fire support vehicle’ that features a remotely operated turret sporting a 25 mm main armament and a sensor mast. Otokar claims, however, that the vehicle can accommodate turrets armed with medium weapons of up to 90 mm in calibre.

The range of the Akrep IIe would depend on its mission, but the company said that on a typical reconnaissance mission, involving reconnaissance with the onboard systems and a few engagements, the Akrep IIe could achieve a round-trip range of 200 km.

The modular Akrep II has 4×4 drive with powered steering on the front wheels but with the option of additional steering on the rear wheels, which can be very useful when operating in a confined space, such as during urban operations.

The vehicle's AxleTech independent suspension provides a high level of cross-country mobility, as well as a better ride for the crew and a more stable firing platform.

 

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Russia, Turkey Jointly Developing Aircraft and Helicopters
By ITARTASS
-April 30, 2019

Russia and Turkey are jointly working on creating promising aircraft and helicopters, and also components for the armor, the press office of Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport (part of the state hi-tech corporation Rostec) reported on Monday.

“We have a number of joint projects for developing promising aircraft and rotorcraft platforms, components for the armor and the after-sale maintenance of the armaments supplied,” the press office quoted Rosoboronexport CEO Alexander Mikheyev as saying.

Turkey also shows interest in the newest Russian combat modules, air defense systems with different range capabilities and anti-tank weapons. Despite the rivals’ interference in the bilateral relations, Russia and Turkey are coping with the difficulties that arise, the chief executive stressed.

“At present, we are discussing with the Turkish partners the implementation of some most important projects in the sphere of military and technical cooperation and in the civilian industry… We are undoubtedly ready for various formats of technological cooperation, including in such science-intensive spheres as the aerospace industry, helicopter-building and the energy sector,” the Rosoboronexport press office quoted Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov as saying.

The Rosoboronexport and Rostec chiefs announced this information on the eve of the IDEF-2019 defense industry exhibition that will run in Istanbul on April 30 – May 3, 2019. The exhibition will showcase equipment for the land troops, the Navy, the Air Force, security technologies, space technologies, onboard systems, and also helicopters, ships, electronics, security systems, transportation and logistics equipment and systems.
 

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Turkey won't be deterred by U.S. sanctions on missile systems purchase, VP says
By Daniel Uria
May 5, 2019

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Sunday that Turkey will not allow potential U.S. sanctions to prevent it from purchasing the S-400 missile defense system from Russia. Photo by Robert Ghement/EPA

May 5 (UPI) -- Turkey will follow through on its agreement to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Russia despite U.S. opposition, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Sunday.

Oktay said that Turkey would not allow the threat of sanctions from the United States to prevent it from purchasing the surface-to-air missile defense system, which U.S. officials have warned aren't compatible with NATO equipment and may compromise U.S.-made Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.

"When Turkey signs an agreement, Turkey keeps its promise. We signed this agreement and certain payments were made," Oktay told Turkish news outlet A Haber. "I don't think the arguments and concerns here have a lot to lean on."

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Turkey's Anadolu Agency that each individual nation in the transatlantic agreement is able to make its own decisions regarding defense purchases.

"Decisions about military procurement are for nations to make," he said. "But, as I have said, interoperability of our armed forces is fundamental to Nato for the conduct of our operations and missions."

Stoltenberg also said he supports discussions between Turkey and the United States about purchasing a U.S. patriot missile system and efforts by Turkey, France and Italy to develop a long-range air and missile defense system.

"This is important for NATO because key allies are involved and because we encourage allies to purchase equipment which is able to operate together," he said.

 

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Media: Turkey may cancel purchase of S-400 missile systems from Russia
May 11, 2019



The Bild newspaper, citing Turkish diplomatic circles, reported that Turkish authorities, apparently, intend to reconsider their decision to purchase the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia.

According to the newspaper, in Ankara, it is associated with a sharp deterioration of the country’s economic situation, decrease of Turkish lira rate and fear of the possible sanctions by the United States because of this deal with Russia.

“The matter of supplying S-400 in July, as the Turkish president said, will not materialize, because the purchase will lead to Washington’s sanctions, and in the light of the current decline in the lira rate, this would mean an economic collapse of Turkey,” writes the Bild.

According to the newspaper’s source, “the economic crisis in Turkey is aggravated by Ankara’s aggressive foreign policy. Earlier, the German ambassador to Turkey, Martin Erdman, spoke against the purchase of anti-aircraft missile systems from Russia. "We want Turkey to remain a solid part of the Western alliance, and we are very concerned about the purchase of the S-400," he said at a conference in Istanbul.

The signing of Russia and Turkey contract for the supply of S-400 was officially confirmed in 2017. Unlike Russia’s first foreign customer, China, Turkey is to receive, not two, but one S-400 regiment set. The U.S. has been actively trying to prevent these weapons supply to Turkey.

The S-400 Triumph is a Russian long-range and medium-range anti-aircraft missile system. This system is intended to destroy an air assault and reconnaissance aircraft (including aircraft made using stealth technology) and any other air targets under intense fire conditions and electronic countermeasures.

 

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Turkey assessing delay at U.S. request in taking delivery of Russian missile: source
May 13, 2019
by Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Turkey is assessing whether to delay taking delivery of the S-400 Russian missile defense system, currently scheduled for July, after a new request from the United States, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The move would be a rare pause in months of escalating tensions between the two NATO allies, which have been at loggerheads over Turkey’s planned purchase of the Russian system, which the United States opposes.

Washington requested last week that Ankara consider postponing taking delivery of the system, a source familiar with the matter said on the condition of anonymity.

There was no immediate response from Turkey, which has said repeatedly it was not going to back down from its planned purchase. Last week, Fahrettin Altun, spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, said the procurement of S-400s was a ‘done deal.’

The source said talks on the issue continued.

U.S. officials have called Turkey’s planned purchase of the S-400 missile defense system “deeply problematic,” saying it would risk Ankara’s partnership in the joint strike fighter F-35 program because it would compromise the jets, made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

The United States and other NATO allies that own F-35s fear the radar on the Russian S-400 missile system will learn how to spot and track the jet, making it less able to evade Russian weapons.

Ankara has also been pushing Washington to establish a working group to assess the risks the system would be posing to the F-35 jet. The United States has so far been reluctant to accept.

The disagreement is the latest in a series of diplomatic disputes between the United States and Turkey. They include Turkish demands that Washington extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, differences over Middle East policy and the war in Syria, and sanctions on Iran.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Peter Cooney

 

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U.S. House members criticize Turkey over Russia ties
May 16, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senior Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives called on Turkey on Wednesday to cancel its planned acquisition of a Russian S-400 missile defense system, the latest effort by U.S. lawmakers to discourage Ankara from pursuing the deal.

They introduced a resolution urging Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to avoid a military relationship with Russia that could jeopardize the U.S.-Turkey partnership and Turkey’s role in NATO.

“Cozying up to (Russian President) Vladimir Putin is unacceptable,” Democratic Representative Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement.

U.S. officials have urged Turkey to cancel its purchase of the S-400 system or risk its position as both a prospective buyer and partner in production of the Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jet. They say Turkey’s plan to buy the S-400 would compromise the security of the jets and want Ankara to buy a U.S. missile defense system instead.

Members of Congress have tried a variety of approaches to convince Turkey to cancel the sale, including introducing legislation that would bar the federal government from spending any money to deliver any F-35 jets to Turkey.

The resolution was introduced by Representatives Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, and Kevin McCarthy, the chamber’s top Republican, as well as Engel and Michael McCaul, the top Foreign Affairs Republican, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey and ranking Republican Key Granger, as well as Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler and ranking Republican Doug Collins.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Cynthia Osterman


 

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Turkey works to fulfill commitments on S-400, F-35: Defense minister
MALATYA- Anadolu Agency
May 18 2019

Turkey is trying to fulfill its commitments and responsibilities both on S-400 air defense system and F-35 fighter jet, the country’s defense minister said on May 17.

“On the issues of both S-400 and F-35, we are showing efforts to completely fulfill whatever our commitments and responsibilities are without flaws,” Hulusi Akar said during his visit to an airbase in eastern Malatya province where F-35 jets will be deployed.

"We are setting up an area for the activities of F-35 here,” Akar said, adding that some parts of the jets were being produced in Turkey.

Tensions between the U.S. and Turkey have reached a fever pitch in recent months with Turkey set to begin receiving the advanced S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Russia.

U.S. officials have suggested Turkey buy the U.S. Patriot missile system rather than the S-400, arguing it is incompatible with NATO systems and is a threat to the F-35 fifth-generation stealth aircraft.

Turkey responded it was the U.S. refusal to sell it Patriots that led it to seek other sellers, adding that Russia offered a better deal, including technology transfers.

 

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‘No other options’: US will deliver F-35s, while Turkey will get S-400… and S-500, Erdogan says
19 May, 2019

‘No other options’: US will deliver F-35s, while Turkey will get S-400… and S-500, Erdogan says

© Sputnik / Vitaliy Ankov
The US will ‘sooner or later’ have to face reality and understand that Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 systems is a done deal, President Erdogan said, noting that the current agreement is just the beginning.

“We’re done with the S-400. There is absolutely no question of stepping back on the S-400. It is a defense system, not an attack system,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday during a televised question and answer session with university students in Istanbul, adding that the first deliveries of the Russian anti-aircraft weapon system are expected in July.

Explaining that Russian military hardware is offered on “very favorable terms” and with no strings attached, Erdogan said that Ankara is also potentially seeking to acquire the next generation S-500 systems – or even engage in co-production partnership – once Russia completes development of its newest mobile surface-to-air missile system.

The $2.5 billion defense deal with Moscow enraged Washington, which threatened its NATO ally with all kinds of sanctions while offering to substitute the Russian systems with Patriot batteries – a carrot Ankara has been reluctant to accept. At the same time, Washington threatened to block the delivery of 100 F-35 jets purchased by Turkey, and terminate its participation in the F-35 program. Ankara, having invested $1.25 billion in the trillion-dollar program, is a vital partner, producing parts of fuselage, landing gear, and cockpit displays for the jets.

Ankara has repeatedly slammed Washington’s coercive diplomacy, saying that Turkey is not a “slave” dancing to the US’ tune when it comes to protecting the nation’s sovereignty. Nevertheless, Erdogan said he has no doubts that the stealth jets will be delivered.

“They [the US] are passing the ball around in the midfield now, showing some reluctance,” the president said. “But sooner or later, we will receive the F-35s. Not delivering them is not an option.”

 

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