Erdoğan: F-35s were not given to us, some new offers are coming
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 14 said there are new offers for Turkey’s fighter jet procurement after Ankara was dismissed from the American F-35 program.
“We paid $1.4 billion for F-35s, but F-35s were not delivered to us. Now, some new offers are coming, let’s see what happens, how accurate it is. We don’t know how good it is,” he said at a meeting in the northwestern province of Çanakkale where he met with the youth at the Ezineli Yahya Sergeant Documentary Gala at Troy Museum
But eventually, this problem could pave the way for Turkey to produce its defense systems, he added.
Erdoğan also recalled the process of Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense systems.
Washington had asked Ankara to return the S-400 systems, he said and added, “We told them, ‘Why should we return it?’”
Erdoğan said Ankara told its NATO partner that the U.S. did not provide the air missile defense systems when asked by Turkey and they had to buy Russian-made missile systems.
“Such an offer came to us from the Russians, we took it from there,” he added.
The president said the “same mistake was made on the F-35 issue.”
Ankara had ordered more than 100 F-35 jets, made by Lockheed Martin Corp (LMT.N), but the U.S. removed Turkey from the program in 2019 after it acquired the Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
Ankara’s purchase of the S-400s has also triggered U.S. sanctions. In December 2020, Washington blacklisted Turkey’s Defense Industry Directorate, its chief, İsmail Demir, and three other employees.
Turkey reportedly made a request to the U.S. to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes. The deal is potentially worth $6 billion.
Turkey makes defense industry independent despite ‘global gangs’
Turkey is making its defense industry independent despite the “global gangs,” Erdoğan said at another event on Nov. 14.
“We have elevated our defense industry to the league of giants despite the global gangs that have sought to make us dependent on them,” Erdoğan said at a meeting of the Confederation of Public Servants Trade Unions (Memur-Sen) in Istanbul.
Turkey has indigenous drones, armed drones, and unmanned combat aerial vehicle Akinci, he recalled.
The president also stressed that the efforts they exerted to raise the standards of the Turkish democracy were sought to be sabotaged through provocations, clamors for coup and political assassinations, but that they had never bowed down to any of them.
“We have never given in to any internal or external pressure. We have strengthened our democracy despite the threats of coup and tutelage. We have developed our economy despite a handful of elites who have made a habit of getting rich without working,” Erdoğan noted.