Turkey has been stockpiling parts for F-16s and other military equipment in anticipation of a U.S. sanction for acquiring the Russian S-400 air defense system, Bloomberg reported.
Two anonymous officials from Turkey who spoke to the news outlet refused to clarify on what types of spares were accumulated, how much was acquired and how long they can last, Yahoo Finance writes.
Relations between the two countries deteriorated over the course of the Syrian civil war, when the U.S. armed a Kurdish militia that Turkey views as a terrorist group, and in the aftermath of a 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan that his government blames on a Turkish imam residing in the U.S.
NATO member Turkey is determined to acquire ballistic missile technology, and aims to co-produce the next generation of the S-400, the officials added, citing discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Erdogan said his country will take delivery of the S-400 within days.
“The first batch of S-400s will be delivered in a week or 10 days,” Haberturk newspaper cited him as saying in a report Monday. “I’ve clearly told this to Trump, Putin also said it.”
The U.S. argues that the pivot to Moscow could allow Russia to collect critical intelligence that would weaken NATO and compromise the American F-35 stealth fighter, which Turkish companies are helping to build. Yet while Congress is drawing up potential sanctions plans that at their harshest would cripple the Turkish economy, U.S. President Donald Trump has cast Turkey as a victim in the saga.