Turkey’s squabble with US could weaken its navy
Russia and Turkey are reportedly holding talks about the possible sale of Russia’s Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets although there is no sign that the purchase will be agreed, the RIA news agency said.
Turkey has been at odds with the US and other Nato allies over its purchase of Russia’s S-400 air-defence missile systems. Washington says the system is not compatible with Nato defences and poses a threat to Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter’s radar signature. Both the F-45 and S-400 are operational in Syria.
Turkey was a major participant in F-35 production, with components manufactured by Turkish firms for the single-engine plane.
Ankara planned to buy 100 F-35s and until recently had personnel training for the new aircraft.
Washington has now expelled Turkey from its F-35 training and manufacturing programme, but Turkey has dismissed the warnings.
But a Turkish assault ship under construction could lack fixed-wing warplanes until the F-35B is replaced, with nothing suitable currently available.
There are only two vertical-landing “jump jets” in service globally: the American F-35B and the older, UK-US Harrier, which is no longer in production.
The Russian SU-35, a variant of the SU-27, lacks stealth capability. As a conventional fighter, it cannot land on an assault ship.
China is rumoured to be developing a vertical-landing fighter similar to the F-35B and Harrier but there is no evidence that production has begun.
Ankara planned to buy F-35Bs to land on the Anadolu assault ship based on Spain’s Juan Carlos I (pictured). The Turkish ship was due to come into service as early as 2021.
The F-35B is used by smaller assault ships for those navies without aircraft carriers.
Now the Turkish navy might not be able to deploy fighters from the Anadolu.
An assault ship is still useful without fixed-wing fighters. The Anadolu could deploy attack helicopters and landing craft.
Turkish Aerospace Industries revealed a mockup of a new stealth jet at the Paris Air Show in June but it unlikely to be built.
Only the US, China and Russia have the capability to build a stealth fighter and Moscow’s SU-57 programme has struggled to reliably produce significant numbers of viable planes.
Spain’s Juan Carlos I. Picture credit: Wikimedia