Turkey’s Daily Sabah reports that Ankara is close to purchasing an initial round of Su-35 fighter jets from Russia, in what would mark a huge reversal of course following the heated Lockheed F-35 fighter and Russian S-400 saga with Washington, which has sunk US-Turkey relations to a low point over the past year.
Citing Turkish defense sources, the report reveals:
Turkish and Russian officials are discussing the details of the sale of a total of 36 Su-35 fighter jets to Turkey, two months after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to the International Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS) aviation show outside of Moscow.
This after the US blocked transfer of some 100 F-35 Lockheed Martin produced stealth fighters, at a loss of hundreds of millions to Turkey’s aviation industry, given it was slated to be a joint participant in making the F-35s ready for Turkey’s armed forces.
“Sources added that officials are also discussing Turkey’s possible involvement in the production of some components of the fighter jets, including its precision weapons and ammunition,” the Daily Sabah reports further.
The Su-35S is Russia’s latest most advanced fighter, a derivative of the Su-27 plane, having been in service with the army since 2015. TASS has described its specs as follows:
The Su-35S generation 4++ supersonic fighter jet performed its debut flight on February 19, 2008. The fighter jet is a derivative of the Su-27 plane. The Su-35S weighs 19 tonnes, has a service ceiling of 20,000 meters, can develop a maximum speed of 2,500 km/h and has a crew of one pilot. The fighter jet’s armament includes a 30mm aircraft gun, up to 8 tonnes of the weapon payload (missiles and bombs of various types) on 12 underwing hardpoints.
In late August of this year President Erdogan inspected Russia’s stealth aircraft line-up while attending a major air show in Moscow, including the Su-57 fighter jet and Su-35 fighter jets.
That prior photo op outside the cockpit of an Su-57 was widely considered a signal to Washington over just how unconcerned Erdogan apparently is over prior threatened US sanctions related to Ankara’s procurement of the S-400 anti-air defense system.
Days ago Turkey’s Defense minister expressed hope that the issues surrounding the US F-35 holdup would soon be overcome, following a successful deal related to Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria to establish a ‘safe zone’.
“We hope that we will continue producing them. There are some issues right now, but I believe these issues will be overcome,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said Wednesday, according to Reuters.
Header image: Putin and Erdogan inspect an SU-57 jet at a Moscow airshow in August, via the AP.