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Turkish official urges US to supply F-35 jets, Patriot systems 'without preconditions'

Fahrettin Altun, President Erdogan's senior adviser, responds to remarks that Turkey could send S-400s to Ukraine to repair US-Turkish relations
Turkey was removed from the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet programme in 2019 due to concerns over possible Russian espionage through the S-400s.
Turkey was removed from the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet programme in 2019 (AFP/File photo)

A senior advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the US should readmit Ankara to a joint F-35 fighter jet programme and deliver Patriot missile defence systems to the country "without conditions", amid calls for Turkey to send S-400s to Ukraine.

Fahrettin Altun, the Turkish president's communications director, wrote in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: "What the West must do is deliver the F-35 fighter jets and Patriot batteries to Turkey without preconditions."

The article was in response to another opinion piece that suggested Turkey should send Ukraine the Russian-made S-400 missile defence system, which would "repair the relationship between the US and Turkey" and pave the way for Ankara to rejoin the F-35 programme and obtain the Patriot systems.

Altun said that while such a deal was "quite unrealistic today, this idea presents an opportunity to discuss the problems Turkey has experienced lately with the West".

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"Turkey, which views European Union membership as a strategic objective and takes pride in its Nato membership, expects to be treated by the West as it deserves. It would take confidence-building measures, not so-called informal proposals, to repair the relationship."

Washington imposed sanctions on Turkish officials in 2020 under a US law that bars significant military transactions with Russia due to its initial deal to receive the first S-400 system.

Turkey was also removed from the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet programme by the Pentagon in 2019 due to concerns over possible Russian espionage through potential backdoor surveillance in the S-400 system.

Turkish officials held a series of meetings with the Biden administration last year to resolve the issue, but the two sides couldn't reach a solution to remove the sanctions.

Turkey has repeatedly stated that it only went through with its purchase of the Russian-made system after failing to strike a deal with the US for the Patriot missile system.

Altun also pointed out that Turkey had played an important role in assisting Ukraine by having sold Bayraktar TB-2 combat drones to Kyiv. The remotely piloted aircraft have been instrumental in conflicts in Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh.

"The Ukraine crisis has shown that the geopolitical assessments of those who underestimated Turkey's strategic importance, claimed that Nato was 'brain dead' and thought that national borders were no longer subject to discussion were misguided," he said.

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