ANKARA: President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has criticized the recent decision by United States authorities to delay the delivery of the jets, saying “Turkey has alternatives other than F-35 fighter jets,” after Ankara’s purchase of S-400 missile defense systems from Russia caused further tensions.
“Turkey needs S-400s. The deal is complete and we will receive them as soon as possible. Turkey also needs F-35s, of which it is already a project partner. It also needs planes that it will develop itself,” said Erdoğan.
“We have an agreement for 120 F-35 jets to be delivered to us. Whether they will provide them or not, the world is no longer made up of one country. There are many alternatives. If they [the U.S.] will not provide them to us, we will get them from somewhere else or we will produce them,” said the Turkish president.
His comments came after U.S. authorities barred the transfer of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets to Turkey under the compromise defense policy measure in July. The bar came amid the tense U.S.-Turkey relations as an impact of Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defense system, which has caused discussions over its interoperability with NATO systems.
Turkey is a joint contributor of F-35 development costs along with the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands, as the U.S. is the primary customer and financial backer.
“It is unacceptable for us to accept such impositions,” said Erdoğan, criticizing the U.S. decision by defining it as an “imposition” over Turkey’s S-400 acquisition.
“We know very well about the public and private actions that take place in the four corners of the world by those who force us into one-sided relations … As much as its allied and partnership relations with the U.S. and Europe, Turkey needs to build cooperation with other countries,” he said.__Hurriyet