Russia says defence cooperation with Turkey ‘ongoing’ on new jet fighter
Russia is offering assistance to Turkey to help move forward its development of a fifth generation fighter jet, pro-government Daily Sabah reported on Sunday.
While attending the Dubai Air Show this weekend, Dmitry Shugayev, head of the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC), said that Russia has "repeatedly expressed" readiness to assist Turkey in the development of a new fighter jet.
“We are still at a stage of negotiations on this project,” Shugayev said.
Alexander Mikheyev, the director general of the Russian state arms export agency Rosboronexport, added that cooperation was already ongoing with Turkey and that new ways of deepening their joint work are under discussion.
"Rosoboronexport is developing cooperation with Turkey in the field of military technical cooperation," said Mikheyev, who was also in Dubai for the air show. "We are ready to implement a wide range of relations both in the interests of the country's air defense and other branches of the armed forces."
Turkey’s defence ties with Russia have created difficulties for its air force’s ability to acquire a new fighter jet to replace its fourth generation F-16 fleet. Previously, Turkey was due to phase out the F-16 in favour of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that it was developing together with the United States and other NATO allies.
However, the purchase of the S-400 missile defence system in July 2019 led to Washington expelling Ankara from the program and denying it access to the 100 F-35s it was due to receive. In December 2020, the outgoing Trump administration sanctioned Turkey, eliciting scorn from Turkish and Russian officials.
Work on an indigenous fifth generation fighter, known as the TF-X, has been beset by numerous delays. Technical complications, including a struggle to obtain an engine necessary to power the jet, has delayed its entry into service repeatedly.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has in the meantime implored that U.S President Joe Biden provide Turkey with upgrades to its F-16 fleet. After their recent meeting in Rome for a G-20 summit on October 31, Biden reportedly insisted that a purchase would have to navigate the proper channels, but members of the U.S Senate have opposed any sale.
Talk about acquiring Russia’s SU-57 fighter has been going on in the background for years, but Erdoğan dismissed any purchase in February 2020. However, after meeting with Putin on September 30 in Sochi, Erdoğan said that the two discussed possible cooperation on a jet fighter engine.