F-35 jet program doomed to failure if Turkey excluded, Erdogan says
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F-35 jet program doomed to failure if Turkey excluded, Erdogan says

“The F-35 project is bound to collapse if it excludes Turkey,” Erdogan told the audience at the 14th International Defense Industry Fair (IDEF’19) at Tuyap Fair and Exhibition Center in Istanbul on Tuesday. He noted that Turkey has not accepted any impositions in the political, diplomatic and economic spheres, and will not bow down to any impositions in the defense field. “We were surely not going to remain silent against our right to self-defense being disregarded and attempts to hit us where it hurts,” he said. “This is the kind of process that is behind the S-400 agreement we reached with Russia.” Erdogan highlighted that those trying to exclude Turkey from the F-35 project had not thought it through, stressing that his country has become a leading actor regarding the production of armed and unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles. “Nowadays, we are being subject to a similar injustice — or rather an imposition — on the F-35s,” he said. The president added that Turkey has reduced its foreign defense industry dependence from 80% to 30% and it now exports defense industry products. He underlined that his country has also taken steps to make its own fighter jets. The United States announced on April 1 that it would be suspending all “deliveries and activities” related to Turkey’s procurement of F-35 stealth fighter jets over Ankara’s plans to purchase the S-400s. On April 24, Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country will look elsewhere for an alternative to American F-35 fighter jets if Washington blocks the delivery of its advanced stealth warplanes to Ankara. “We are already partners in the F-35 manufacturing program, we participate in this project, we have paid the necessary amount. There are currently no problems with this,” Cavusoglu said. “But in the worst case scenario, we will have to satisfy our need in another place, where the best technologies will be offered,” he added. Moscow and Ankara finalized an agreement on the delivery of the S-400 in December 2017. Back in April 2018, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin said in Ankara that they had agreed to expedite the delivery of the S-400. At the time, it was said that the delivery could be made between late 2019 and early 2020. A number of NATO member states have criticized Turkey for its planned purchase of the S-400, arguing the missile batteries are not compatible with those of the military alliance. They also argue that the purchase could jeopardize Ankara’s acquisition of F-35 fighter jets and possibly result in US sanctions. The S-400 is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India. Ankara is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkish border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense. Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4-billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington. Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of other issues, including Washington’s support for Kurdish militants in Syria as well as the US government’s refusal to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the US blamed for a coup attempt against Ankara in July 2016.

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