Air-to-surface missiles developed for the F-35 fighter jet could be used with Turkey’s locally-developed national combat aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the country’s industry and technology minister said on Saturday.
Two countries developed the SOM-J cruise missile, said Mustafa Varank during a press briefing at the 22nd National Sky Observation Festival in Antalya.
“If the countries in the F-35 program want to buy this type of cruise missile, we can easily sell these missiles even if we are out of the program,” he added.
Turkey’s locally-produced SOM-J cruise missile can also be integrated into Akinci UAVs produced by Turkish company Baykar, said Varank, adding that the apex of the UAV project would be to produce unmanned combat aircraft.
“This is the future of UAVs. I believe Akinci will have a huge multiplier effect in our defense industry,” he said.
Since 2017, Turkey and the U.S. have been at odds over Turkey’s decision to buy the S-400, a Russian-made missile defense system, and U.S. threats to break its contract to sell Turkey F-35 jets over the dispute.
U.S. officials have argued the Russian system would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose the F-35s to possible Russian subterfuge.
Turkey, however, has emphasized the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems and would not pose a threat to the alliance.
The delivery of S-400 components began last week and is ongoing, with 14 shipments of related equipment so far have landed in Turkey over the last nine days.
Deliveries are set to continue through April 2020.