ANKARA - In 2019, Turkey was removed as a partner from the American F-35 fighter jet programme after purchasing Russian-made S-400 missile defence systems which Washington claims are incompatible with NATO weapons.
Turkish and US officials are preparing to hold negotiations in the near future to discuss F-35 fighter jets, Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Saturday, as quoted by state-run Anadolu news agency.
"Negotiations with the United States on the F-35 are ongoing. In the coming days, a meeting will be held in the United States to discuss the F-35 issue, preparations are underway," Akar said, according to Anadolu.
He reportedly added that Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 air defence systems was a "necessity'' and not a choice since it could not buy air defence systems from any NATO ally on satisfactory terms. Akar believes that an acceptable solution may be found on the S-400 issue.
Turkey was a partner in the F-35 programme and planned to buy a hundred F-35As jets when in 2019 it was removed from the programme over its purchase of Russia's S-400 missile defence systems. It happened because Washington said that S-400 are not compatible with NATO weapons and thus pose a security risk. Turkey has repeatedly said that the S-400 would not be integrated into NATO systems.
Despite the country having been excluded from the programme and its Defence Industry Directorate facing sanctions in 2020, Turkish contractors have been manufacturing parts for the fifth-generation F-35 jet. The Foreign Lobby Report said last year that Turkey's Defence Industry Technologies had hired Washington-based law firm Arnold & Porter for lobbying efforts to get back into the F-35 programme.