After Ankara was kicked off the F-35 programme for purchasing Russian missile defence systems, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that the US has allegedly offered Turkey to buy F-16 fighter jets in return for its investment, Reuters reports.
Ankara was excluded from NATO’s F-35 stealth fighter jet program by Washington in 2019 after Turkey- in defiance of warnings from its Western allies- purchased Russian S-400 defense air systems, imperiling Turkish-US relations.
The S-400s purchase has also triggered US sanctions in December 2020, when Washington blacklisted Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate, its chief Ismail Demir, and three other employees but had no effect on Erdogan, who’s apparently ready to further deepen the rift with Washington after indicating Ankara still intends to buy a second batch of S-400s from Russia.
Erdogan said that Turkey now demands compensation for being excluded from the F-35 program, including for its $1.4 billion investment in it made before its removal and that talks on the issue are ongoing though it was reported earlier this month that Ankara asked thr US to buy 40 Lockheed Martin-made F-16 fighters and up to 80 modernization kits for its existing warplanes.
It’s more than clear that the US Congress, where anti-Turkey sentiments have been on the rise over the recent years, will not be willing to grant approval for any such sale of the jets.
Quite the opposite, a bipartisan support increases in US Congress to pressure Biden administration into putting further pressure on Ankara over its Russian weapons purchase and its human rights record.