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15 Jan, 2021 15:51

Erdogan hopes Biden will bring resolution on S-400 spat and says Turkey wants the F-35 fighter jets it paid for

Erdogan hopes Biden will bring resolution on S-400 spat and says Turkey wants the F-35 fighter jets it paid for

President Erdogan said he hopes the Biden administration will move to resolve tensions between Ankara and Washington over the purchase of a Russian missile system. The US halted delivery of F-35s to Turkey in response to the deal.

“We don’t know what the Biden administration will say at this stage [about the S-400s],” Erdogan said on Friday, while repeating Ankara’s desire to purchase more units of the Russian-developed air defense system. 

“My hope is that, after we hold talks with [Joe] Biden as he takes office, we will take much more positive steps and put these back on track.”

Erdogan also reiterated his hopes that the incoming US president might restore Turkey to the F-35 fighter jet program: “Despite having paid a serious fee on the F-35s, the F-35s still have not been given to us. This is a serious wrong the United States did against us as a NATO ally.”

Ankara’s purchase of the S-400s became a major bone of contention for its NATO ally. In 2019, the Trump administration kicked Turkey off its F-35 fighter jet program, citing security concerns. Washington stated: “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.” 

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Erdogan has previously described the decision to drop Ankara from Washington’s F-35 program as “robbery”, and Turkey has dismissed the concerns cited by the US as unreasonable.

The Turkish leader has previously said that Ankara already paid $1.4bn, but only four jets have been handed over. Individually, they cost between $80-110 million.

Despite the US withholding delivery of the bulk of the order, the Pentagon confirmed last summer that a number of F-35 components would continue to be built in Turkey for the next two years. 

In December, Washington slapped sanctions on the Turkish defense industry and called on Ankara to “resolve the S-400 problem immediately.” 

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On Thursday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar reaffirmed Turkey’s desire to buy more S-400s but urged the US not to threaten more sanctions over the deal.

“It is a very problematic situation to turn back from the point we have come to. We invite [Washington] to distance themselves from threatening language such as sanctions,” Akar told journalists in Ankara. 

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