Turkey has asked the US to consider selling new F16s, upgrading existing ones in exchange for the money it spent on the F-35 programme that it was removed from in 2019 over a dispute over Russia.

Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the two NATO allies have agreed to hold a meeting in Washington in the coming period to resolve the dispute over the F-35s.
Turkey's Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said the two NATO allies have agreed to hold a meeting in Washington in the coming period to resolve the dispute over the F-35s. (Reuters Archive)

Turkey will consider alternative means if the United States rejects a deal over providing Ankara F-16 fighter jets.

"If the US stance is negative, Turkey will necessarily and naturally have to evaluate other alternatives to ensure its security," Turkey's Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar said on Tuesday. 

"Our contacts continue to discuss these and similar issues, and a delegation from our Ministry is currently in the US," he added.

One recent proposal calls for the US to make up for excluding Turkey from the F-35 programme in 2019 by delivering F-16 fighter jets, upgrades to F-16s Turkey already has. This would be in lieu for money Washington owes Ankara for undelivered F-35 planes – Turkey had paid $1.4 billion for the F-35 programme. 

Akar said the two NATO allies have agreed to hold a meeting in Washington in the coming days to resolve the dispute over the F-35s.

Washington can approach the issue positively, Akar said, adding: "However, we are closely following developments, as the process will be subject to congressional approval."

READ MORE: US proposes F-16 sales to Turkey in return for its F-35 investment: Erdogan

Reimbursement

Turkey has been demanding reimbursement for its payment and has said it should be used to finance some of its requests to buy F-16s and modernisation kits.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan previously said he had asked his counterpart, Joe Biden, for support in getting US lawmakers to back the sale.

Erdogan said he had seen a positive approach from Biden on his country's request during their meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Rome earlier this month.

READ MORE: Turkey starts upgrading F-16s to gain a strategic edge

In 2019, Washington announced that it was taking Turkey out of the F-35 programme over Ankara’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defence system.

The US claimed the Russian system was a safety risk but Turkey maintained that the S-400 would pose no threat to NATO or its armaments because it would not be integrated into the alliance’s systems.

Turkey said it bought the Russian S-400 defence system after its efforts to acquire US Patriot missiles were rebuffed.

Ankara also repeatedly proposed setting up a commission to resolve the matter.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies