Turkey’s top defence industry official said on Friday that the ongoing tension with the United States over Ankara’s plans to buy Russian missile systems a crisis that can lead to possibilities, adding that Washington could not unilaterally eject Turkey from the F-35 programme.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that the first delivery of S-400 systems will be made in the first half of July, while the Pentagon set July 31 as the deadline for Turkey’s ejection from the F-35 programme if it goes ahead with plans to acquire Russian systems.
Speaking at a meeting in Ankara, İsmail Demir, the head of Turkey’s Defence Industries Directorate, said the crisis with Washington might result in another occasion.
“Each crisis is an opportunity. I think this will also create opportunities,” Demir said when asked about the possible effects of U.S. sanctions on Turkey’s defence industry.
According to Demir, if the United States decides to impose sanctions, the Turkish defence industry will undergo a tough period but will take measures to overcome it and one viable option is to promote domestic production.
Demir reminded that nine countries have been partners in the production of F-35 stealth fighter jets. “No single country has the right to say ‘I removed you from the programme’. This is an issue all partners should decide unanimously,” he said.
Eight Turkish contractors are taking part in the F-35 joint manufacturing programme, building 937 parts for the stealth fighter.
Turkish defence companies are likely to be hurt by U.S. measures that could start with being shut out of building F-35 advanced fighter jets and extend to sanctions damaging other defence and civil aviation projects.
“The Turkish firms in the F-35 programme are expected to lose each a minimum of 30 per cent of their annual turnovers and they are concerned that other defence procurement projects with the United States will also be affected in time,” a senior official of a Turkish defence firm told Ahval this week. “The companies at the moment are considering all other options including moving production to other countries,” the official said.