Turkey to seek for alternative in case not getting F-35: FM
ANKARA- Anadolu Agency
Turkey needs warplane. If it does not get F-35 fighter jets, the country will seek alternatives, but it does not prefer that, Turkey's foreign minister said on Aug. 28.
The purchase of air missile system was an urgent need for Turkey and it had to buy the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said at a joint news conference with his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu in the Estonian capital Tallinn.
Nowadays, the U.S. is stirring up trouble. But Turkey is still part of this 9-partner F-35 program, Çavuşoğlu added.
Turkey produces some parts of the F-35 fighter jets and also is a partner of the F-35 program. It wants to buy F-35s, he said.
Touching on the relations between Turkey and Russia, he said Russia's presence in the region is a reality. "Turkey has good economic relations with Russia."
Moreover, he said even if some difficulties were faced in Syria due to the Assad regime's aggression, Turkey and Russia are trying to overcome them through the Astana and Sochi processes.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper voiced hope on Aug. 29 that Turkey would abandon the S-400 anti-air system, saying Turkey could return to the F-35 program if it does so.
Esper told reporters at the Pentagon during an exceedingly rare news briefing that short of completely doing away with the Russian S-400 system, Ankara would not be allowed to return to the F-35.
"I've been very clear in both my public comments and privately with my Turkish counterpart: it's either the F-35 or the S-400. It's not both. It's not parking one in the garage, and roll the other one out. It's one or the other," Esper said.
"So we are where we are and it's regrettable. As I've said, Turkey's been a long-standing, a great partner and ally, and I would hope that they would move back in our direction and really live up to what NATO agreed to many years ago, and that was to begin divesting of Soviet-era Russian equipment," he added.
The Trump administration has already suspended Turkey from the F-35 system over Ankara's purchase of the S-400, but some hopes centered on a compromise wherein Turkey could keep the Russian anti-air system, but keep it turned off in order to return to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.
U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced reluctance to penalize Turkey over its purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defense system, doing so when announcing Ankara's removal from the program in July.
The Trump administration has maintained that the S-400 system could expose the advanced fighter to possible Russian subterfuge and is incompatible with NATO systems.
Turkey, however, counters that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
Trump blames the Obama administration for the current row over its refusal to sign a deal with Turkey to sell it American defense firm Raytheon's Patriot missile system.
Turkey received the second batch of the S-400 on Aug. 27, and the delivery is slated to continue for one month, according to Turkey's defense ministry.
Ankara received its first supply of S-400 missiles in July. The delivery of the first battery was completed on July 25.