Turkey consulting experts on Su-35 purchase - Russian official

Turkey has been holding consultations with Russia on the purchase of Su-35 stealth fighter jets, the RIA news agency cited a Russian official as saying on Friday.

Since its suspension from the U.S.-led F-35 fighter jet programme this year, Turkey has been seeking alternatives to replace its ageing fleet of F-16s.

Ankara could turn to Russia to meet its needs for new fighters, a move that is likely the anger Washington. The decision to block delivery of F-35s to Turkey came after the country purchased S-400 missile defence systems from Russia, sparking fears among NATO officials that this could lead to a security breach.

Russia has made presentations to Turkish officials on the Su-35, including in Istanbul, and there has been “great interest” in the fighter jet, RIA quoted Dmitry Shugaev, the head of Russia’s Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying.

Shugaev said contracts were not yet a part of discussions, but that contact on a possible sale was developing, and Turkey had been consulting specialists.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inspected a new-generation Su-57 fighter with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during an air show near Moscow in August.

It was still too soon to discuss the sale of Su-57s to Turkey, though this could take place at a later stage, Shugaev said.