Could Russia sell Su-34 fighter-bomber to Turkey? - analysis

Though Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu’s recent statement listing Russia’s Su-34 bombers among alternatives to U.S.-made F-35s has led to speculations as the former cannot build a future for the Turkish air power, said defence analyst Can Kasapoğlu in the National Interest on Saturday.

Turkey’s plans to press ahead with the purchase of the Russian S-400 air-defence system despite opposition from Washington has led the U.S. threatening to expel Ankara from its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet programme if the deal is completed.

On Apr. 10, Çavuşoğlu told reporters that Turkey could buy aircrafts elsewhere, when asked about Ankara’s possible expulsion from the F-35 programme.

“There are (Russian) Su-34, Su-57 and others. I will absolutely meet my needs from somewhere until I can produce it myself,” Çavuşoğlu said.

While the Su-57 option has recently come into prominence among Turkish strategic community, Çavuşoğlu is the first senior official in the Turkish administration who has publicly named Russia’s Su-34 Fullback as a potential acquisition target, Kasapoğlu said. That comment might have been a slip of the tongue and the Turkish foreign minister might have meant the Su-35, he said.

The Su-34 cannot build a future for the Turkish air power, nor could do the Soviet-style surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, according to the analyst

While Turkish press have been discussing a possible switch to Russian solutions in case Ankara faces U.S. sanctions over S-400 purchase, this is easier said than done for Turkey after long experience with Western aircrafts, Kasapoğlu said.

The Russian military aviation relies on a different design philosophy compared to NATO standards, while a radical alteration in the fighter arsenal necessitates doing the same in airbase infrastructure and maintenance systems, simulators, pilot training, munitions, concept of operations (CONOPS), and more importantly, military strategic culture of an entire branch, according to Kasapoğlu.