Turkey can’t confirm possible Russian fighter jet deal

Turkey’s defence ministry wouldn’t confirm or deny plans to buy Russian Su-57 stealth fighter jets should a similar agreement with the United States fall through, Russian website Sputnik reported.

Reports in the Turkish press that Ankara would turn to Russia should the U.S. Congress block a deal on F-35 fighter planes were based on the opinions of experts and did not reflect Turkey’s official position, Sputnik said, citing an unidentified official at Turkey’s defence ministry.

“Such publications do not reflect the official government's position yet," the source said.

Turkey is considering the purchase of Russian Su-57 fighter jets should Washington decide to halt the delivery of the F-35s, Yeni Şafak daily reported on Sunday. Some U.S. legislators are calling for the delivery to be suspended because of Turkey’s internment of a U.S. pastor on terrorism charges and plans by Ankara to purchase Russian S-400 anti-missile systems.

A bill was proposed to the U.S. Congress on May 8 calling for a report on U.S.-Turkish relations and demanding the suspension of U.S. weapons sales -- including the F-35 fighter jets -- to Turkey until the report’s publication.

The bill referred to “strained relations” between the pair of NATO allies, blaming Turkey for “provocative actions” and its deal to purchase S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.

An F-35 jet bound for Turkey was tested in the United States earlier this month.

Israel is calling on Washington to deliver the planes without the latest software enhancements to ensure that Israel maintains a military edge in the region, Haaretz reported at the weekend.