Turkey will look for an alternative to F-35 planes, Director General of Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) Ismail Demir said, Trend reports referring to Turkish media.
He said that if negotiations in the US to purchase fifth-generation F-35 jet fighters fail, Ankara will turn to other countries for alternative supplies.
He noted that the suspension of Ankara’s participation in the F-35 program by the US unilaterally is an erroneous and at the same time illegal decision.
Earlier, US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen M. Lord said that Turkey will be formally removed from the F-35 program by March 2020.
“We are proceeding with a very orderly wind-down [of Turkey’s participation in the program] through March 2020 at this point … We are winding down in March of 2020,” she said.
According to Lord, the US has been searching for “alternate suppliers of over 900 components”, which were to be provided by Turkey, since 2018, therefore it is expected that there will only be a minimal impact to the program.
The decision to exclude Turkey from the F-35 program came as Washington’s reaction to the supply of Ankara with the modern Russian S-400 air defense system.
Deliveries of S-400, which caused a crisis in relations between Turkey and the US, began on July 12. As stated by the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the full installation of the air defense system will be completed in April 2020.