‘Why not? We didn’t come here for nothing’: Erdogan on buying Russian Su-57 as alternative to F-35
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan poured more fuel on the rumors that Ankara might be buying Russian Su-57 fighters if the US follows through on cutting Turkey out of the F-35 program.
Erdogan was in Moscow earlier this week, checking out the Su-35 and Su-57 jets at the MAKS 2019 air salon in the company of his host, Russian President Vladimir Putin. On the way back to Ankara, he was asked if Turkey was interested in the Russian planes.
“Why not? We didn’t come here for nothing,” was his response, prompting breaking headlines in Turkey.
Erdogan added that “in a few days” he is expecting a call with US President Donald Trump, when he will be told the final US decision about the F-35 and react accordingly. Turkey is not just a customer for the F-35 but a manufacturer, Erdogan explained.
On Tuesday, Erdogan toured the air show with Putin and lingered around the Su-57, Russia’s fifth-generation jet and answer to the F-35. In an exchange caught on camera, the Turkish leader asks if the plane is airworthy and for sale – and Putin responded affirmatively on both counts.
It was the first time the export variant of the Su-57 was presented to the public. The Russian military started receiving its first serial-production models earlier this year.
Ankara has repeatedly said it would have to look for modern aircraft elsewhere if it was barred from buying the F-35 purchases. Washington threatened to cut Turkey off last month, after the first deliveries of the S-400 air defense systems from Russia. The Pentagon insists that the F-35 is not compatible with the S-400, and that having the two systems operate together might reveal the stealth jet’s secrets to Moscow.
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