Russia offered to supply critical parts of the TF-X, the future Turkish fighter jet while denying that an offer for the fifth-generation Su-57 was standing.
Discussing the potential procurement of another set of S-400 missile systems to equip a second regiment, Dmitry Shugayev, Director of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, revealed that Moscow made an offer to supply several critical parts in the TF-X program, including the engines, avionics, onboard systems, and the airframe. “There are potentially interesting areas where we could provide technical assistance given our experience in the design and production of modern aircraft,” Shugayev announced on Turkish television channel Ekoturk.
The technical assistance would help in the development of the indigenous TF-X fighter jet, destined to replace the F-16 within the Turkish Air Force, according to the state-owned Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). The manufacturer displayed a one-to-one mock-up of the TF-X for the first time at the Paris Air Show, on June 17, 2019. The maiden flight of the first prototype is planned for 2023.
After the dispute between Turkey and the United States around the procurement of the Russian S-400 missile system, Ankara’s participation in the F-35 program was canceled on July 18, 2019. Discussions of partnerships with Rolls Royce and General Electric to procure an engine system were likely interrupted.
Deepening shift towards Russia?
The day following Washington’s decision, the Russian government through the Rostec state corporation offered its Sukhoi Su-35 as an alternative. On October 15, 2019, President Tayyip Erdogan confirmed receiving multiple offers to replace the F-35, including both the Su-35 and even the more recent Su-57.
“Our specialists continue to explore possible variants of our cooperation in the production of aircraft and missile defense systems. I am sure that the potential of our collaboration is not limited to these areas”, added the Russian official. “If Turkey decides to acquire Su-35s, we are ready to organize consultations with our colleagues.”
In late 2019, media reports seemed to suggest that an order was about to be closed. But on October 29, 2019, Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar denied the reports. “The allegations that Turkey will receive the Su-35 are not true”, Akar said, quoted by the local media Haberler.
As for a potential offer of the 5th generation aircraft Su-57 Felon, it was denied by Shugayev, who explained that the aircraft would not be exported as it was too strategic and would be reserved for the Russian aerospace forces.
A new partnership between Russia and Turkey would undoubtedly increase tensions within NATO, already polarized over the S-400 and the recent Turkish offensive in Syria.