Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara had many options (to purchase fighter jets) if Trump administration blocks the sales of F-35 aircrafts. The US said last week that it was removing NATO ally Turkey from the F-35 programme after Ankara purchased S-400 missile defences systems from Russia.
Erdogan also said that Turkey planned to start using the Russian S-400 missile defence system — a bone of contention with the US, from April 2020.
“In the coming spring, God willing in April 2020, we will be able to start using this system,” he told a gathering of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Ankara.
The US has also threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey, though Ankara has dismissed the warnings. It has instead put its trust in sympathetic comments from US President Donald Trump, who has said that Turkey was treated “unfairly”. However, Trump has not ruled out sanctions on Turkey.
Erdogan, speaking publicly about the strained US ties for the first time in 11 days, said he hoped US officials would be “reasonable” on the question of sanctions, adding that Turkey may also reconsider its purchase of advanced Boeing aircraft from the United States.
He said he had raised the issue with US President Donald Trump during their meeting at the G20 summit in Japan last month.
“Are you not giving us the F-35s? Okay, then excuse us but we will once again have to take measures on that matter as well and we will turn elsewhere,” Erdogan told members of his Party.
“Even if we’re not getting F-35s, we are buying 100 advanced Boeing aircrafts, the agreement is signed… At the moment, one of the Boeing planes has arrived and we are making the payments, we are good customers,” he had said. “But, if things continue like this, we will have to reconsider this.”
Russia’s Rostec state conglomerate said that Moscow would be ready to supply its highly-advanced SU-35 jets to Turkey if Ankara requested them. But, Turkish officials have confirmed that there were no talks with Moscow as of now on the purchase of SU-35 jets.