Erdogan Says Turkey Will Recoup $1.4 Bn Paid to US Over Scrapped F-35 Deal 'One Way or Another'
13:31 GMT 21.10.2021 (Updated: 19:09 GMT 03.11.2022)
As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed last weekend that negotiations between Turkey and the US were continuing on Ankara’s purchase of F-16 fighter jets and modernization kits to upgrade existing warplanes, he stressed the purchase cannot be separated from the F-35 stealth fighter jet project from which Turkey was earlier expelled.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has voiced optimism regarding the outcome of talks between Turkey and the United States regarding the sale of Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets, Anadolu agency reported on Thursday.
Furthermore, Ankara is hopeful that it will be recouped for the $1.4 billion it paid to acquire F-35 stealth fighters from Washington, also produced by the Lockheed Martin company.
"We will get this $1.4 billion of ours one way or another," Erdogan was cited as telling reporters on a return flight from Nigeria.
"I believe we will make progress. We will of course talk about this with (U.S. President) Biden at the G20 meeting in Rome", said Erdogan, in a reference to the event slated for 30-31 October.
© AP PhotoMilitary vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019
Military vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019
© AP Photo
Washington argued that the S-400 air missile systems could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets. It also claimed they were incompatible with NATO systems.
“Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible. The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” read a statement by the White House in July 2019.
Thus, Washington expelled Turkey from the F-35 stealth fighter jet project, which also includes seven remaining partners: the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, Canada and Norway.
In defence of its deal with Russia, Turkey, which had helped fund the development of the stealth jet, insisted that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
“We are still working on the technical details. The S-400 systems will not be integrated into the NATO security system or air defence system. It will remain an independent defence system on its own. Concerns on this issue can be eased,” said presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin in late 2019.
After the deal was scrapped, Turkey said it was considering the possibility of expanding its fleet and upgrading existing F-16 military aircraft as an alternative.
© Flickr / Defence Images Turkish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon
Turkish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon
© Flickr / Defence Images
"Our first choice is to buy the F-35, and this is our right. If the crisis with the United States is overcome, Turkey will re-enter the program and we will receive our F-35s. If the problem is not solved, we will continue to search for alternatives. The expansion of the existing fleet of F-16s and their modernization can be considered an alternative. Depending on the conditions, a final decision will be made based on our needs," Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalyn said in an interview with Milliyet newspaper.
© F-35 Joint Program OfficeAn F-35A releases ordnance during a dual capable aircraft (DCA) test flight in the skies above Edwards Air Force Base, California, on February 6, 2020.
An F-35A releases ordnance during a dual capable aircraft (DCA) test flight in the skies above Edwards Air Force Base, California, on February 6, 2020.
He also underscored that Turkey's exclusion from the F-35 program is "completely illegal and unfair," as Turkey had already paid the United States $1.4 billion for participation in the program.