Turkey comments on US Patriot and F-35 plans
Turkey has no plans to obtain the US-made Patriot missile system and will no longer seek to buy the F-35 fighter jet, considering the matter “closed” after Washington kicked Ankara out of the multi-national program to develop the craft in 2019, a top defense official said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomatic Forum on Monday, Defense Industries President Ismail Demir said the Patriot missile defense system had been “removed from the agenda.”
“At the moment there is no demand for Patriots from our side. If we’re talking about the defense industry, we have turned the page on the matter,” he added.
Following years of unproductive negotiations with the US to obtain Patriots, Turkey – a NATO member – opted for Russia’s S-400 system, signing a $2.5 billion deal for four batteries in 2017, which were delivered two years later.
However, Washington loudly objected to the sale, claiming the S-400 was not compatible with other NATO systems and could even compromise security. It responded by booting Turkey from the F-35 program – despite years of cooperation in developing the fighter jet – and later even slapped sanctions on a number of Turkish officials, among them Demir himself.
Though Turkey has demanded reimbursement after already shelling out $1.4 billion for the plane and denounced the sanctions as “unjust,” Demir said the two sides are unlikely to come to any agreement on the F-35, and that the matter is now “closed.”
“Steps have been taken on mutually listening to each other and understanding each other. It is a good thing that dialogue has started. We believe that the F-35 issue is closed and we have to manage on our own,” Demir told reporters.
He went on to say that Ankara is instead focused on developing its own aircraft and “determined to modernize” its US-made F-16s, after reportedly requesting to buy 40 additional F-16s and 80 modernization kits for the plane last year.