‘No other options’: US will deliver F-35s, while Turkey will get S-400… and S-500 – Erdogan
The US will ‘sooner or later’ have to reconcile the reality and understand that Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400 systems is a done deal, President Tayyip Erdogan stressed, noting that the current agreement is just the beginning.
“We’re done with the S-400. There is absolutely no question of stepping back on the S-400. It is a defense system, not an attack system,” Erdogan said on Saturday during the televised question and answer session with university students in Istanbul, stressing that first deliveries of the Russian anti-aircraft weapon system are expected in July.
Explaining that Russian military hardware is offered on “very favorable terms” and with no strings attached, Erdogan stressed that Ankara is also potentially seeking to acquire the next generation S-500 systems – or even engage in co-production partnership, once Russia completes the development of its newest mobile surface-to-air missile system.
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The $2.5 billion defense deal with Moscow enraged Washington, which threatened its NATO ally with all kinds of sanctions while offering to substitute the Russian systems with Patriot batteries – a carrot Ankara has been reluctant to accept. At the same time, Washington threatened to block the delivery of some 100 F-35 jets purchased by Turkey, and terminate its participation in the F-35 program. Ankara, having invested some $1.25 billion in the trillion-dollar program, is a vital partner, producing parts of fuselage, landing gear and cockpit displays for the jets.
Ankara repeatedly slammed Washington’s coercive diplomacy, stressing that the country is not a “slave” to dance to the US tune when it comes to protecting the sovereignty of the country. Nevertheless, Erdogan said that he has no doubts that the stealth jets will be delivered.
“They [the US] are passing the ball around in the midfield now, showing some reluctance,” the president said. “But sooner or later, we will receive the F-35s. Not delivering them is not an option.”
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