If the U.S. Senate bans the sale of fifth generation F-35 fighters to Turkey, Ankara may consider buying Russian Su-35S or Su-57 fighters,reported the newspaper Yeni Safak, citing a source.
Turkey is still planning on the June delivery of American F-35 airplanes. Twenty-one of the fighters are scheduled to be delivered to Turkey sometime this summer. The newspaper noted that 13 pilots and 100 technical personnel are receiving training in the U.S.
Nevertheless, Turkey may consider purchasing the Russian Su-57, which is in development and is half the cost of the F-35. If purchase of the Su-57 does not work out, the Su-35S is another option. According to the newspaper, purchase of the Russian fighters may include Russian software and technology.
Turkey is currently in the process of buying S-400 Triumf air-defense missile systems from Russia. It is expected that the systems will be delivered in 2019. The U.S. State Department stated that if the Russian missile systems are purchased, Turkey may fall under the CAATSA sanctions, which includes Rosoboronexport (Russian state-owned arms exporter). According to the CAATSA, foreign legal entities and individuals may be subject to secondary sanctions for cooperating with the companies that are under sanctions. Washington is not ruling out the possibility that purchase of the S-400 systems could have a negative impact on the deal for the purchase of the F-35 fighters.
After the State Department’s statement, a group of U.S. senators introduced a bill that would place restrictions on the sale of the F-35 to Turkey.
The senators feel that at times, Turkey’s strategic decisions conflict with the interests of the United States.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu promised that there would be an “answer” to the U.S. in the event that the deal regarding the F-35 is not successful.