The dispute of 1.4 bln over F35 program may further damage relations between Turkey and US -

30 November, Tuesday

The dispute of 1.4 bln over F35 program may further damage relations between Turkey and US

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Turkey is again facing the problem of obtaining F-35 aircraft from the United States. Turkey, a key NATO member, has resumed talks with the United States on the supply of fighter jets after being pulled out of a joint F-35 program.

It should be noted that in addition to the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway and Denmark, as well as Israel, Japan, South Korea, Belgium, Poland and Singapore, which act as external buyers, can participate in this program. However, Turkey for some reasons or another has been left out of the program. Now, Turkey, which used to pay large sums for the purchase of both F-16s and F-35s, has demanded compensation from the United States for the lack of results. Announcing the amount, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would demand a refund of $ 1.4 billion it paid to the United States for fifth-generation fighter jets. Erdogan also said that negotiations with the United States are currently at a low pace. However, he did not rule out that $ 1.4 billion will be recovered in any way.

Turkey was excluded from the F-35 joint fighter program in mid-2019 after Russia's acquisition of S-400 air defense systems. The United States refused to provide Turkey with five F-35s, which it paid for, and did not return $ 1.4 billion. In addition, Turkey recently requested the purchase of 40 F-16 fighter jets and spare parts to upgrade existing aircraft at its base to further strengthen its air force. However, this has not yet yielded results.

To find out what the results will be, received comments from Turkish political analyst Mehmet Babacan.

First of all, Mehmet Babacan touched upon the lukewarm relations between the United States and Turkey and its impact on military-strategic cooperation.

"First of all, allow me to note that Turkey has another demand for the F-35. This is the purchase of 40 F-16 aircraft and the upgrade of 80 aircraft already in Turkey. The Turkish Defence Ministry has already sent an official letter to the United States. This is the next process, and, of course, the letter will go through certain stages on the basis of opinions, and in the end will be connected with the decision of Congress.

The political analyst also touched on the attitude of the Senate, which is trying to intensify tensions between Turkey and the Biden administration.

"I think that the letter addressed to the Congress may face some obstacles due to the influence of some lobbies," he said. However, the Turkish side is also taking action against these lobbies. Turkey is doing this by forming a Turkish lobby through Arnold and Porter.

In fact, in the desire to return $ 1.4 billion to Turkey, the proposal to replace that amount with F-16s first came from the United States.

Mehmet Babacan also commented on how this issue might possibly end in the worst case scenario.

"Everything has to do with the fact that the proposal expressed by Turkey in the letter was finally evaluated in Congress. I think that in the worst case scenario, this issue will create a new and long-term damage to the long-standing abnormal relations between the United States and Turkey. Alternatively, it might also bring Turkey closer to either Russia or China,” Babacan added.

By Elnur Enveroglu

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