Following his recent meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara will not change its stance regarding its usage of Russian S-400 missile systems.
“I told [Biden] that they should not expect Turkey to take a different step on F-35 and S-400 issues because we did what we had to for the F-35s and gave the necessary money," Erdogan told reporters at Azerbaijan’s capital Baku.
The two leaders met on Monday at the NATO summit in Brussels.
The U.S. kicked Ankara out of the $399 billion F-35 project after the latter purchased S-400 missile systems from Russia for $2.5 billion. Sanctions under CAATSA were also slapped in December 2020 for signing the multi-billion dollar contract. Washington argues the systems would allow Russia to covertly obtain classified details on the F-35 jets and is incompatible with NATO systems. Turkey however, insists that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance. Three other NATO members – Greece, Slovakia and Bulgaria – are in possession of Russian-made S-300 missile systems.
The Biden administration had reportedly renewed efforts to try and get Turkey to reverse course as recently as this March, but Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told Secretary of State Anthony Blinken that the S-400 purchase was a “done deal.”
U.S. Air Force secretary nominee Frank Kendall said at his Senate confirmation hearing in late May that the United States will press forward with ending Turkey’s role in producing parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Turkey produced 817 of the jet’s approximately 24,000 airframe part types; and 188 of approximately 3,000 engine part types. It is tasked with manufacturing the jet’s engine propulsion system including electronic wiring harnesses, compressor rotor hubs, bracket assemblies for harnesses, as well as seals for an air turbine. The U.S. wants to halt manufacturing in Turkey for F-35 engine and fuselage components in 2022.
“Under the current situation with Turkey, I think we should not be making F-35 parts in Turkey,” Kendall said, telling Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., that if confirmed he would see that the production is halted as soon as possible.