Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Ankara will recover the $1.4 billion it paid for the purchase of the F-35 jets that it was denied access to, Anadolu Agency reported.
“We will get our $1.4 billion back one way or another,” Anadolu quoted Erdogan as telling reporters who accompanied him on the flight back from Nigeria on Thursday, adding that the Turkish and US defense ministers would discuss the matter.
“I think we will make progress…of course we will talk about it with US President Joe Biden at the G-20 meeting in Rome,” he added.
The Turkish president stressed that his country will not give up its rights in the project at all, noting that talks with Washington are continuing at a low diplomatic level.
The Turkish news agency reported that Erdogan said he believed Turkey and the United States would make progress in talks on the sale of F-16 fighters.
In response to a question about talks related to the case, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said that Turkey and the United States were discussing the possibility of using the money paid for the F-35s to finance Ankara’s purchase of the F-16s.
He added, “The options are easy for us, either go back to the F-35 program and get the planes, or they will return our money. In this context, the use of the money we paid for the F-35 to modernize the F-16 is on the table.”
Bloomberg reported earlier this month that Turkey had submitted an order to the United States for 40 F-16 fighter jets produced by Lockheed Martin and about 80 modernization equipment for its existing warplanes.
Erdogan had said at the weekend that the United States had proposed to sell his country F-16 fighter jets in return for an advance payment it had made to obtain the most advanced F-35 aircraft, which Washington prevented Ankara from obtaining after it purchased a missile defense system from Russia.
Washington, which in December imposed sanctions on the Turkish defense industry, confirmed that it had not offered any funding to its NATO ally.
The decades-old alliance between the two NATO members has been very tense over the past five years due to differences over their respective policies towards Syria, Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile system, tension in the eastern Mediterranean and human rights issues in Turkey.