Turkey's security bureaucracy is actively considering buying Russian and Chinese made fifth-generation fighter aircraft if the Turkish deal with Washington on the purchase of 100 F-35s falls through, Yeni Safak, one of Turkey's most influential pro-government newspapers, has reported.
According to the outlet, "plans B, C, and D" have already been prepared "in the event that the F-35 project is dumped following the S-400 purchase."
These plans reportedly include the acceleration of the Turkish defence ministry's efforts to develop a homegrown fighter aircraft, talks with Russia about the supply of Sukhoi's new fighter jet design, the Su-57, and consideration of the Shenyang FC-31 (aka the J-31), China's new stealth multirole fighter platform.
"These aircraft stand out with their low cost compared to the F-35, each of which costs approximately $100 million," Yeni Safak noted. Furthermore, "Ankara already thinks that even if the F-35s are delivered, they will create serious security risks for Turkey, as they are directly commanded by the US. Therefore, nobody regrets 'losing' the F-35s," the paper stressed.
US Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan has given Turkey until July 31 to back out of its S-400 deal with Russia, warning that Washington would suspend Ankara's involvement in the F-35 program if it goes through with the purchase of the Russian-made air defence system.
Last week, Shanahan sent a letter to Turkish counterpart Hulusi Akar, warning him that although the US seeks "to maintain our valued relationship, Turkey will not receive the F-35 if Turkey takes delivery of the S-400." Earlier, the US threatened Turkey with a series of measures, including sanctions, if it didn't back out of its deal with Moscow.
Russia and Turkey signed a $2.5 billion contract for four battalion-sets' worth of S-400s for Ankara in late 2017. Deliveries are expected to start in July.