The negotiations with the United States on the ongoing F-35 issue are currently on a positive path, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Wednesday.
Speaking to journalists on his return from the Africa tour, Erdoğan spoke on the compensation process for Turkey's payment to the U.S. for the F-35 warplanes.
“The process is ongoing. My defense minister, as well as senior military officials, are continuing their meetings with high-level U.S. interlocutors.”
After the deal on F-35 jets fell through, Turkey has requested to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes from the U.S. as it seeks to modernize its air force, both with national means and possible purchases.
Erdoğan said that besides this possibility, the U.S. could also give Turkey an upper segment of the F-16s.
“Our framework is like this; Either give us these planes or do the maintenance and repair of the F-16s.”
Ankara had ordered more than 100 F-35 jets, also made by Lockheed Martin Corp., but was removed from the program in 2019 by the U.S. Department of Defense on the pretext of purchasing a Russian missile defense system, a move regarded as “unilateral and unlawful” by Ankara.
Washington argues that the S-400 air missile systems acquired by Turkey could be used by Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the Lockheed Martin F-35 jets and are incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey, however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.