Negotiations between state officials over Ankara’s possible purchase of Russian-made Su-35 warplanes are in an advanced stage, Defense News reported this week citing Turkish officials.
President Recep Erdogan expressed interest in the jets following Turkey’s acquisition of Russian S-400 missile defense systems in July, which riled long-time NATO allies and may result with sanctions for violating regulations meant to deter purchases of Russian military technology.
While such sanctions have yet to be imposed on Turkey — partly due to resistance within the White House — the S-400 purchase did lead to Ankara’s expulsion from the Western bloc’s F-35 fight jet program.
Although the Turkish state has already spent millions on the production and development of next-generation F-35 warplanes and the nation’s economy is expected to lose $9 billion due to its exclusion, NATO officials claim the move was necessary to safeguard the F-35’s security features, which could be compromised if the jets were operated within the range of S-400 radars.
Left with few options to modernize Turkey’s aging fleet of F-16s, Ankara officials are now considering Russia’s Su-35 jet as a viable option, though its acquisition would risk further damaging Turkey’s already troubled relations with Western and NATO allies.
An aerospace industry specialist in Ankara told Defense News Moscow would probably price the fighter aircraft between $50 million and $70 million. “The potential Su-35 deal has strategic value for the Russians,” he said.
“Moscow may thus agree to give Ankara a favorable price reminiscent of the S-400 deal,” he added. Turkey agreed to pay $2.5 billion for two S-400 systems. The contract came with an international loan.