Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli denied Tuesday that Ankara's purchase of Russian S-400s would affect the country's talks with Washington on the delivery of its F-35 5th generation stealth fighters.
The S-400 sale was final, the minister said, speaking to Sputnik. "There are no problems with the purchase of S-400s; moreover, these systems may be delivered ahead of schedule," he stressed.
Turkey expects to take delivery of its first batch of F-35s within a year's time. Ankara has ordered 30 of the stealth fighters, and plans to order 70 more.
Earlier, Volkan Bozkir, chairman of the Turkish parliament's committee on foreign affairs, told Turkish media that Congress may prohibit the delivery of F-35s to Turkey if the country goes ahead with its $2.5 billion deal with Russia on the purchase of S-400s.
"The US attaches great importance to the issue of the S-400s, and Congress has a desire to link the S-400s with the sale of its F-35s. In the sense that if we buy the S-400s, Congress will decide to ban the sale of F-35s," Bozkir said, in an interview with Hurriyet following his visit to the US.
Bozkir confirmed that Turkey was prepared to consider the US proposal for the supply of its Patriot missile systems, but noted that Ankara's decision on the issue would depend on what exactly the US is prepared to offer.
"This week an American delegation will arrive in Turkey with a proposal on the Patriots. When the proposal comes, we'll take a look and evaluate it. But because we insist on guarantees of technology transfer, we haven't been able to sign an agreement on the Patriots. If the US can make such an offer at an attractive price, Turkey will consider it," the lawmaker said.
Russia and Turkey signed an agreement on the latter's purchase of four batteries of S-400s in December 2017. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2020. Ankara has faced intense pressure over the deal from its US and NATO allies. Earlier this month, NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller claimed that the S-400s were incompatible with NATO's air defense standards. Ankara countered by pointing to Greece's S-300s, which the country bought back in the late 1990s. The Turkish government has warned that it would respond to any possible US pressure, including sanctions, over the S-400 deal.