After purchasing S-400 “Triumph” aerial defense systems from Russia, Ankara is now investigating the possibility of buying Russian Su-35 fighters for the Turkish Air Force now that Turkey’s membership in the American F-35 program has been suspended, the Turkish news outlet Yeni Safak writes.
According to the news outlet’s sources, the military officials responsible for rearming the Turkish Air Force have asked the Defense Ministry to consider Russia’s offer to sell Turkey Su-35s. If the Defense Ministry approves the proposal, official talks will begin between Turkey and the Russian defense export agency, RosOboronExport.
In July 2019, Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov announced that Russia is prepared to sell Turkey Su-35 multi-role fighters if Turkey “expresses interest”.
On December 29, 2017, Turkey and Russia signed a credit agreement as part of the S-400 deal. This is the first time that a NATO country is purchasing a Russian aerial defense system. The actual contract was signed in September.
On May 22, CNBC reported with reference to its own sources that the US had given Turkey two weeks to call off the S-400 deal, or else Ankara would be excluded from the F-35 program.
On May 29, news came out that the US might actually impose sanctions on Turkey as part of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and exclude it from the F-35 program if Ankara chose to go ahead with the S-400 deal.
On June 7, the US decided to stop accepting Turkish pilots into the preparatory pilot training program for the fifth generation F-35 fighters. Subsequently, even Turkish pilots and specialists who had already started training at the Luke Air Force Base were barred from admission.
On June 28, the US Senate officially banned the allocation of any budget funds to the transferal of F-35s or the accompanying equipment and intellectual property to Turkey until the US Defense Department and Secretary of State can confirm that Turkey has called off the S-400 deal and guaranteed not to purchase S-400s in future.
Turkish President Recep Erdogan said that if Turkey is excluded from the F-35 program, Ankara will file a lawsuit against Washington to reclaim the $1.25 billion it has already paid for the fighters.