TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Speaking to reporters after the 99th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Parliament on Tuesday, Cavusoglu emphasized that Turkey would look for “the best technology” elsewhere if the US fails to transfer the F-35 fighters.
“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,” he said. “But in the worst case scenario, we will have to satisfy our need in another place, where the best technologies will be offered.”
Turkey has ordered 30 F-35s and plans to buy over 100 in total. It has, at the same time, signed a $2.5 billion deal with Russia for the purchase of the S-400 missile defense systems with the delivery set to begin in July.
But Ankara’s military deal with Moscow has angered Washington, which has issued an ultimatum to Turkey to stop buying the Russian batteries or risk losing its NATO membership.
The Pentagon has recently halted the delivery of equipment related to the F-35 to Turkey.
Leaders of the US Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees have also warned Turkey that it risks tough sanctions if it pursues plans to acquire S-400.
Elsewhere in his remarks, the top Turkish diplomat said that Ankara had no intention to hand over its Russian S-400 systems to Qatar and Azerbaijan.
“Why do we buy S-400? Because we have an urgent need for an air defense system,” Cavusoglu added.
Ankara has ‘plan B’
Separately on Tuesday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar stressed that his country was unfazed by the US threats and would put a “plan B” into action should the US terminate the F-35 deal.
“We have short-term, medium-term and long-term plans,” he said.
Akar further pointed out that four Turkish pilots were currently receiving training on the F-35 fighter jets and that two more were preparing to join the program. In total, he added, 35 to 40 personnel were in training.
Earlier this month, Cavusoglu said Ankara would look to Russia and others to fill its fighter jet requirements if the US scrapped the planned sale of the F-35s.
“There are also aircraft manufactured in Russia,” he told Turkish news outlet NTV. “If we are not able to purchase [the] F-35, Turkey will buy similar aircraft from other countries.”
Ankara has long argued that Turkey, as a sovereign state, is entitled to choose its trade partners and arms suppliers free from foreign intervention.
Source: Press TV