Could NATO show Turkey the door in the near future? Things could easily reach this point considering the alliance’s most easterly member is fast amassing significant Russian defense hardware. With reception of Russian S-400 anti-air components, and now blocked from the F-35 joint strike fighter program per Wednesday’s White House announcement, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is said to be mulling a new Russian offer.
“Russia is ready to sell its super-maneuverable Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets to Turkey, the head of the Russian state conglomerate Rostec said Thursday,” according to Turkey’s English language Daily Sabah.
“If our Turkish colleagues express a desire, we are ready to work out the deliveries of the Su-35,” Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov said.
Russia’s TASS news agency also confirmed the offer, which a Turkish military source said was “premature” but noted that Erdogan will assess the proposal. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had stated previously that Ankara stood ready to sign a contract for jet fighters with other countries should the US block transfers of the F-35.
After the White House statement confirming Turkey was booted from the program, Turkey urged the US to rectify its “mistake” while also calling it “unfair”.
The Su-35S is Russia’s latest advanced fighter, a derivative of the Su-27 plane, having been in service with the army since 2015, as TASS describes further of its specs:
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.
The first foreign purchasers of the Su-35 were China and Indonesia. Russia completed delivery of two dozen of the supersonic jets to China in November 2018 as part of a deal said to be worth about $2.5 billion.
Indonesia reportedly is awaiting delivery its own order of 11 Su-35s, expected by the end of 2019.
Should at some future point Turkey actually possesses advanced Russian fighters in the air, with Russian air defenses on the ground, the mainstay of NATO leadership would certainly find it hard to stomach Ankara’s continued membership in the alliance.