ANKARA – Turkey has shown an interest in Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets, as an alternative to the American F-35, the Turkish pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak reports. Last month, Turkey was expelled from the F-35 project by America.

The purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missiles by Turkey led to the expulsion from the F-35 program. According to the U.S., purchase by Turkey of both American F-35 aircraft and the Russian S-400 system is impossible. The U.S. says the risk is too great that Russia will collect secret information about the F-35 via the missile system.

Sukhoi Su-35

The Turkish Ministry of Defense is now considering the possible purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35s. If the assessment is positive, the Turkish “Under Secretariat for Defense Industry” will start negotiations with Rosoboronexport. That Russian state-owned company is responsible for Russian arms exports.

Turkey's alternative to the F-35: the Sukhoi Su-35
Turkey’s alternative to the F-35: the Sukhoi Su-35. Photo: Alex Beltyukov (CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL 1.2)

The Sukhoi Su-35 Flanker-E is the designation for two improved derivatives of the Su-27 air-defence fighter. They are single-seat, twin-engine, supermaneuverable aircraft, designed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau and built by the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Plant.

The Su-35 is an upgraded variant of the Su-27, serving as an interim aircraft awaiting the development of the Sukhoi Su-57 5th Gen fighter program. The Su-35 has a redesigned cockpit and weapons-control system and features thrust-vectoring engines in place of the canards. The aircraft made its first flight in February 2008. Although the aircraft was designed for export, the Russian Air Force in 2009 became the launch customer of the aircraft, with the production version called Su-35S. China and Indonesia have also ordered the aircraft.

Turkey’s industrial participation in the F-35 program

The Pentagon is preparing to transfer Turkey’s industrial participation in the F-35 program to other countries.

In early 2020 contracts will end with major Turkish defense contractors such as Turkish Aerospace Industries, Roketsan and Tusas Engine Industries, among many others. This is just one of many steps the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) intends to take to exclude Turkey from the F-35 program, Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on June 6.

End of F-35 training

The training of Turkish F-35 pilots at Luke AFB in Arizona and of Turkish maintainers at Eglin AFB in Florida will also end, Shanahan said. U.S. military exercises in Turkey are also in jeopardy.


(Head photo: Airman 1st Class Andrew Kobialka / USAF)

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