Turkey may purchase Russian Su-35 fighter jets in the event that the deal on the acquisition of U.S.-made F-16s fails, the country’s Defense Industry Agency President Ismail Demir said on Saturday, Ahval reported.
NATO member Turkey has applied to purchase 40 Blok 70 Viper F-16s and as many as 80 modernization kits for its existing F-16 fleet after purchasing Russian S-400 air defense missiles. The acquisition of the Russian weapons in 2019 prompted the United States to bar it from a program to develop and purchase the F-35 stealth fighter jet. Last year, Turkey announced that the United States suggested that Ankara procure the fourth generation of the F-16 fighter jets instead of the fifth generation F-35s.
Turkey is not without alternatives to the F-16s, Demir told CNN Turk, adding that "one of the variants could be the Su-35," Demir told CNN Turk, should the F-16 deal fall through.
In July, the U.S. House of Representatives also passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act constraining the impending transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. The amendment calls for assurances on behalf of the U.S. president that the aircraft will not be used for unauthorized territorial overflights in Greece, a demand Ankara has rejected.
Any potential deal between the NATO allies on fighter jets would require congressional approval.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday said that he may have a telephone conversation with his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, to discuss the purchase of F-16 fighter jets by Ankara, according to Daily Sabah newspaper.