Turkish minister denies rumor of US threat on F-35 deliveries
In an interview to the newspaper Hurryiet, the head of the Commission for Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Parliament Volkan Bozkır had stated that Turkey buying S-400 anti-air system from Russia could affect its F-35 deliveries. Defense minister Nurettin Canikli has denied those comments.
In December 2017, Turkey and Russia had reportedly signed an agreement for two S-400 missile batteries to protect Akkuyu nuclear power plant, the latest Russian antimissile and anti-air system that can also hit ground targets. Its missiles have a range of more than 400km and can reach target at an altitude of 30km. That acquisition had surprised many NATO partners, as the S-400 has no interoperability with other NATO systems.
In 2002, Turkey entered the Joint Strike Fighter program as a level 3 partner. It has since invested more than $200 million in the project. Several Turkish companies have taken part, with Turkish Aerospace Industries being the supplier of Northrop Grumman for the weapon bay doors of the F-35.
Turkey has already ordered six of them (two in 2014 and six in 2016). The country has announced that it would eventually acquire 100 aircraft of the F-35A variant. It could also make another order of the F-35B to equip its two future aircraft carriers, the TCG Anadolu and another one that could be built over the next decade. Contrary to the F-35A, the F-35B is capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), making it especially efficient on an aircraft carrier.
But former Ambassador Volkan Bozkır had said in an interview to Hurriyet on March 27, 2018, that the purchase of the S-400 had jeopardized the acquisition of the F-35 and that U.S. Congress was threatening to suspend the deliveries.
Defense minister Nurettin Canikli has denied those allegations and declared that the first two F-35A ordered by Turkey in 2014 would be delivered next year, as it was planned. “This is a commercial activity before anything else, agreements have been made, we have fulfilled all of our obligations under contracts, so we have to look at it in such a way that they are paid and paid for. International rules exist,” has declared Defense minister Nurettin Canikli to journalists. The U.S. Congress has not yet commented on the matter.
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