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Turkey discussing purchase of Russian fighter jets, says Erdogan

Erdogan pointed out the "prospects of expanded cooperation in the sphere of defense industry"

MOSCOW, August 30. /TASS/. Turkey is holding talks with Russia on the purchase of Russian military equipment, namely Sukhoi fighter jets, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, the NTV channel reports.

"Our cooperation with Russia [in the sphere of arms acquisition] is already implemented within the framework of the S-400 missile systems deal. However, after what we have witnessed at the air show [MAKS-2019], our ministries - the Ministry of Defense, the Defense Industry Directorate - carried on the negotiations with the Russian side," Erdogan said in response to whether any additional steps have been made after Erdogan was shown the Su-57 fighter jet during the 2019 MAKS Air Show.

Erdogan pointed out the "prospects of expanded cooperation in the sphere of defense industry." "For example, combat and reconnaissance drones. We take certain mutual steps in this area," he said.

Regarding Turkey’s potential exclusion from the US F-35 fighter jet program and the search for alternatives like Russian-made Sukhoi aircrafts, Erdogan noted that "these planes are very different from each other." "If America continues to act in the same manner, we will take care of ourselves. So we’ll choose between Su-35 and F-35, Su-57 or something else. When the corresponding talks begin, we will make our conditions known based on what our defense industry requires," the Turkish leader stated. He added that Ankara plans to raise the issues of "joint production and loans" during the talks.

On Tuesday, the Turkish president inspected Russia’s fifth generation fighter jet Sukhoi Su-57 at MAKS. Apart from the Su-57, the Russian and Turkish presidents also examined a Su-35 fighter jet, a Ka-62 medium helicopter and a Mi-38 heavy helicopter. Putin and Erdogan saw the Mi-38 from the inside as well.


The S-400 deal


The news about the Russian-Turkish talks on the purchase of S-400 systems first came in November 2016. The Russian side confirmed that the contract had been signed on September 12, 2017. Concurrently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara had made an advance payment. Turkey is going to become the first NATO member state to purchase an air defense weapon of this class from Russia.

US officials warn that Turkey’s contract to purchase S-400 missile systems from Russia will severely damage bilateral relations and lead to unilateral US sanctions against Ankara.

Earlier, the Pentagon informed that in order to remain in the F-35 fighter jet program, Turkey needs to drop the purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense systems.

The White House said in an earlier statement that "Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible." However, Washington pointed out that it will "continue to cooperate with Turkey extensively, mindful of constraints due to the presence of the S-400 system in Turkey." The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on the United States to reconsider this decision, which "may deal irreparable harm to bilateral relations.".