Purchase of Russian S-400s does not affect purchase of American F-35s: Defense minister
Turkey’s prospected purchase of Russian S-400 anti-missile defense systems will not affect its purchase of F-35 fighter aircraft from the United States, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on March 27, rejecting earlier comments from Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission head Volkan Bozkır.
“Turkey entered the F-35 project many years ago and their deliveries will start next year,” Nurettin Canikli told journalists.
The defense minister said Turkey has fulfilled its obligations for the project.
“We are paying the cost, it is unrelated [to the purchase of the S-400],” said Canikli, while pointing to the international agreement on the purchase of F-35 fighter jets.
Bozkır had said the U.S. was “not positive” on selling F-35 aircrafts to Turkey if Turkey bought the S-400 missile systems from Russia.
Turkey and Russia have completed the negotiations on the S-400 deal and the first deliveries are scheduled for early 2020.
The S-400 is Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system with a capacity of carrying three types of missiles capable of destroying targets, including ballistic and cruise missiles.
The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers.
Meanwhile, Turkey had already placed an order for the first two F-35 jets for the projected fleet of 100 F-35A aircraft in 2014 and plans to deploy the aircraft by 2019.
The modern F-35 fighter is being developed and built by the U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin for the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Italy, Norway, Turkey, the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada in a project worth about $400 billion, making it the world’s most expensive weapons’ program.