U.S. will either hand over F-35s or reimburse the money, Turkey’s Erdoğan says

The United States will either deliver the F-35 stealth fighters that Turkey has purchased, or return the payments already made, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Wednesday.

Washington blocked the delivery of F-35s to Turkey, after Ankara started receiving Russian S-400 air defence systems in July. 

The United States also suspended Turkey’s participation to the joint programme to build F-35 jets on the grounds that Turkey’s acquisition of S-400s could pave the way for Russian subterfuge that could undermine the defences of the fifth generation fighters.

“Either they (the United States) will give us the money or the planes,” Yeni Şafak daily quoted Erdoğan as telling reporters. 

Even if the United States does not reimburse Turkey, Ankara has other alternatives, Erdoğan said. “We will find and purchase them from another place, or we build them ourselves,” he said. 

Erdoğan said no concrete progress had been made about Ankara’s proposal to U.S. President Donald Trump to establish a bilateral commission to resolve the dispute over S-400 missile systems and F-35 stealth fighters. 

“The S-400 issue is over,” Erdoğan said. “It is out of the question for us to turn back from this deal.”

Turkey risks further U.S. sanctions that can be imposed under a 2017 law that aims to punish U.S. allies that purchase arms from Russia.