The final decision on whether to buy Russian fighter planes is now in Turkey’s hands, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, whose portfolio includes the defence and space industries, has said.
“I hope, at any rate, that the Su-35 and Su-57 could really interest them, based on well-known events. The decision is theirs to make,” Borisov said, in an interview with Russian television on Sunday.
Commenting on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the MAKS-2019 International Air Show earlier this week, Borisov said that the air show proved an important opportunity to “present the products in person.”
Erdogan visited MAKS-2019 together with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, where he expressed interest in Russian fighter aircraft including the Su-35, Su-57, and MiG-35. On his way back to Turkey, Erdogan told reporters that Su-35s or Su-57s could replace Lockheed’s F-35s, whose delivery Washington blocked earlier this summer over Turkey’s purchase of S-400 air defence systems. “Why not? We didn’t come here in vain,” Erdogan reportedly said.
On Thursday, Erdogan confirmed that Ankara was in talks with Moscow to buy Su-57s, saying Turkey would act after putting its conditions on loans and joint production on the negotiating table.
Last week, US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper expressed hope that Turkey would get rid of its S-400 air defence systems, saying it could count on being returned to the F-35 programme if it did so. Meanwhile, a group of US lawmakers have demanded that the Trump administration slap sanctions on Turkey over its S-400s, "as required by US law." Turkey has slammed the US for its threats, and said Washington's decision to kick the country out of the F-35 programme was illegal. Prior to its suspension, Turkey had produced multiple parts for the F-35, and invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the programme. The US justified its decision by saying S-400 batteries could pose a security and intelligence threat to the F-35.
The Su-57 is a fifth-generation stealth air superiority fighter created by Russia’s Sukhoi Company. The single-seat, twin-engine multirole aircraft is equipped with advanced avionics and a variety of high-precision weaponry. Sukhoi began mass production of the aircraft in late July, saying the military expects to receive 76 aircraft in the coming decade. According to Russian business media, the contract is worth 170 billion rubles ($2.5 billion), for a per-aircraft cost of $32.9 million, well below the $90-$115 million estimated cost of a single F-35. Russian officials have remained tight-lipped regarding the possible price tag of an export variant of the Su-57.