Will Turkey Switch American F-35s for Russian Su-57s?

Turkey may start buying Russian Su-57s after the American government cut the country out of the F-35 program for new-generation fighter jets. While this news is speculation denied by the Turkish government, the situation has the potential of shifting the balance of power in the region.

Turkish media outlet Yeni Şafak reported on the issue, which came about because a US budget committee proposed as part of a bill on defense spending that Turkey would be blocked from purchasing the F-35s. The proposal is not binding, and it is not necessarily likely to actually pass.

The reasons for barring Turkey from the program are reportedly a kind of sanction for Ankara buying Russian S-400 air defense systems. The arrest of American pastor Andrew Brunson by Turkey was also cited as a possible reason.

The Russian Su-57s are cheaper to buy than the American F-35, but Turkey would have to rely more heavily on Russia for their maintenance. NATO powers using Russian hardware isn’t something new, former Warsaw-pact countries like Bulgaria and Romania do it. But it’s highly untypical to move towards Russian equipment rather than away from it, especially considering the friction between the Russian Federation and NATO over the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Russia quickly jumped on the opportunity to speculate that Turkey would be instead buying Su-57s, which have not seen much interest yet (even the Russian government has only ordered 12, compared to the more than 100 F-35s Turkey hopes to procure). This has been reported by both Sputnik, and TASS, operations funded by the Russian government.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Alex R. Loyd) 

Alex Dimchev

Alex Dimchev is a writer, editor, and weapons master for EUscoop.com

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