'Turkey to seek alternative if F-35 jets not acquired'
The Russia-made S-400 missile defence systems Turkey recently procured would not be integrated into the NATO systems within the Turkish defence system and would instead be part of a "stand-alone system
Turkey would seek alternatives if it could not acquire US F-35 fighter jets, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has said. "All should be aware that Turkey will have to look for alternatives if F-35s cannot be acquired for any reason," Xinhua quoted Akar as saying during an interview with Al Jazeera.
The Russia-made S-400 missile defence systems Turkey recently procured would not be integrated into the NATO systems within the Turkish defence system and would instead be part of a "stand-alone system," Akar stated.
"That's what we have been saying since the beginning (of the dispute with the United States) ... We are not going to integrate this with the NATO systems in any way," he said. Akar emphasised that Turkey has fulfilled its responsibilities as one of the partner countries in the F-35 programme, and the US should do its part, accordingly.
He recalled that Ankara previously tried to acquire a US-made Patriot defence system but that attempt was rejected by Washington before Turkey decided to buy the S-400 system.
Turkey's procurement of the Russian S-400 missile defence systems prompted the Trump administration to suspend Ankara's participation in the F-35 fifth-generation joint strike fighter programme in July. Russia has expressed its readiness for a potential agreement with Turkey on the sale of Su-35 or Su-57 aircraft.
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