| 2 October 2022, Sunday |

Erdogan: Turkey’s position on Russian S-400 missile acquisition remains the same

Turkey’s position remains unchanged regarding its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems, said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, adding that talks with the United States on new F-16 jets and kits were proceeding smoothly.

The United States sanctioned NATO member Turkey’s defence industry in December 2020 over the S-400s and expelled Ankara from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, where it was a manufacturer and buyer. Turkey claims the move is unjust.

Turkish broadcaster Haberturk reported that Erdogan told reporters on his way back to Turkey from a NATO summit in Brussels that he hoped that discussions with Washington on buying new F-16 jets and modernization kits would be fruitful soon.

He also dismissed reports that US officials had informally raised with Turkey the unlikely possibility of sending the S-400 systems to Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion, saying “all they do is cause commotion” in reference to Washington.

During the summit, Erdogan also discussed with French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi the possibility of purchasing SAMP-T missile defence systems from the Franco-Italian Eurosam consortium.

As part of its effort to maintain and modernize its existing F-16 fleet, Ankara seeks to purchase 40 F-16 fighter jets and the necessary spare parts.

Ankara bought F-35 stealth fighter jets for $1.4 billion, but the planes have not been delivered since the US froze the contract in 2019 over Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system.

From the moment the first delivery of the Russian-built surface-to-air missile batteries arrived in July 2019, Washington has been asking Ankara to dispose of them.

The system is seen by Washington as a threat to the F-35 aircraft, leading to the exclusion of Turkey from the cutting-edge program.

Even though Turkey has delivered combat drones to its ally Ukraine, it also wants to maintain good relations with Russia, which it relies on heavily for tourism and energy supplies.

  • Sawt Beirut International