Multiple Turkish media outlets reported yesterday that the U.S. had offered Turkey a new deal on F-35 fighter jets, boosting optimism that strained relations between the two NATO allies were making progress.
According to Reports the U.S. verbally offered Turkey a new deal on the F-35 fighter jets, according to reports by Turkish media outlets.
U.S. envoy to Ankara David Satterfield reportedly offered Friday to sell Turkey the Patriot missile defense system, Habertürk and NTV reported.
U.S. envoy to Ankara David Satterfield conveyed the offer which allegedly also contains a trade deal package that will boost trade volume between the two allies to $100 billion and lower tariffs on steel and aluminum.
U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday after meeting Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that he would like to get NATO ally Turkey back in a joint manufacturing program for F-35 fighter jets, from which it was expelled in July.
In the meantime, after a meeting with the Turkish president in New York Sunday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham expressed hope for a more strategic relationship between Ankara and Washington.
“I am hopeful we can get a more strategic relationship with Turkey […] try to get them back in the F-35 program, maybe talk about free trade program,” Graham told reporters.
In his remarks after meeting Erdoğan on the sidelines of G20 summit in Osaka, President Trump had said the dispute as a whole was “unfair” to Turkey as Washington repeatedly turned down Turkey’s requests to purchase Patriot missile systems in the past.
“Because Turkey bought a Russian missile, we’re not allowed to sell them billions of dollars’ worth of aircraft. It’s not a fair situation,” Trump had said.
He blamed the Obama administration’s reluctance to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey in 2013, saying Turkey was not treated fairly as a NATO member.
Washington removed Turkey from the joint F-35 program after Turkey accepted delivery of S-400 equipment in July. Ankara also aimed to purchase some of the jets but now says it could look elsewhere.
Graham said he and Erdogan discussed a possible free trade agreement. “Turkey is a very important ally, not just when it comes to Syria but for the whole region,” he told reporters.
The U.S. is expected to send an official written offer to the Turkish government soon.
In July, the U.S. suspended Turkey’s involvement in the F-35 fighter jets program, saying the latter’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system could endanger the aircraft, a claim Turkey has consistently denied.
Related Article: US officially removes Turkey from F-35 fighter jet programme, costing US half a billion dollars
Turkey produces some parts of the F-35 jets and is also a partner in the jet program. It has warned any effort to remove it from the production chain would be very costly.
After protracted unsuccessful efforts to purchase Patriot missiles from the U.S., Turkey signed a deal with Russia in April 2017 to acquire the Russian air defense system.
In response to U.S. concerns, Turkey has emphasized that the S-400 would not be integrated into the NATO systems and therefore had no chance to pose any threat to the alliance or its armaments. Turkey even proposed setting up a commission to clarify any technical issues. However, the U.S. has yet to respond to the proposal.
Tensions deepened in July when Turkey received its first shipment of Russian equipment. The delivery of the second battery of the system, which started on Aug. 27, was completed on Sept. 15.
Related Article: Russia reportedly delivered first S-400 missile system to Turkey
Ankara said it was the U.S.’ initial refusal to sell Patriot missiles that led it to seek out other sellers, adding that Russia offered it a better deal, including technology transfers.
The S-400 system is one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world, capable of simultaneously tracking multiple targets.