ISTANBUL: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said would turn elsewhere for fighter jets if the United States will not sell it the F-35 jets,.
He said that the U.S. decision to cut Ankara from the program would not deter it from meeting its needs.
Last week, the US said it was removing NATO ally Turkey from the F-35 program after Ankara purchased and received delivery of Russian S-400 missile defenses. US sees the Russain S-400 missile system a threat.
Washington has also threatened sanctions on Turkey, though Ankara has dismissed the warnings. It has instead put its trust in sympathetic comments from U.S. President Donald Trump, who has said that Turkey was treated “unfairly”.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday he does not blame Turkey for buying the Russian air defense system, but did not say when he would decide on imposing sanctions on Turkey for doing business with the Russian military, as required by a 2017 U.S. law.
“We’re looking at the whole Turkey situation,” Trump said. “It’s a tough situation … I don’t blame Turkey because there are a lot of circumstances.”
Erdogan, speaking publicly about the strained U.S. ties for the first time in 11 days, said he hoped U.S. officials would be “reasonable” on the question of sanctions, adding that Turkey may also reconsider its purchase of advanced Boeing (BA.N) aircraft from the United States.
“Are you not giving us the F-35s? Okay, then excuse us but we will once again have to take measures on that matter as well and we will turn elsewhere,” Erdogan told members of his ruling AK Party.
“Even if we’re not getting F-35s, we are buying 100 advanced Boeing aircrafts, the agreement is signed… At the moment, one of the Boeing planes has arrived and we are making the payments, we are good customers,” he said. “But, if things continue like this, we will have to reconsider this.”