The story around the loud blackmail of Turkey by the United States over the Russian S-400 systems has reached the final point. Washington has finally decided the fate of the F-35 fighters, commissioned by Turkey – they will be supplied to the American armed forces. The paradox is that in this way the United States punishes itself in the first place.
The scandal, of course, was huge.
First, the United States concludes with Turkey the most important military-political contract for it. Ankara is not only promised to sell the latest F-35 fighter-bombers (which would seriously strengthen the potential of the Turkish army and would be useful in terms of Erdogan’s aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East), but they are allowed to produce components for these aircraft. In addition, Turkey would become a repair hub for F-35s purchased by countries in the region.
Prestige, money, opportunities, technology – all this was promised to Ankara.
And she was deprived of all this after she decided to purchase the S-400 systems from Russia. The American response to this purchase was the suspension of all obligations to Turkey under the F-35 contract. Formally, because the operation of the latest aircraft next to the Russian air defense system will help Russian engineers somehow read information about the vulnerabilities of the F-35, but de facto, simply because Ankara dared to buy weapons from Moscow.
Initially, Washington wanted to resolve the conflict with Ankara in a brotherly manner. Leading Republicans in the Senate bluntly offered the Turks an exchange: the United States resumes cooperation with Turkey on the F-35 program, in exchange for which Ankara sells the S-400 system acquired by Erdogan from the Russian Federation to Washington. The money for the purchase of Russian weapons was even preliminary contributed to the defense budget for 2021.
Americans need this system to learn – not only to counter Moscow, but also to counter other countries that will acquire the S-400 to defend against American democracy flying on the wings of bombers. For example, China, which has already acquired Russian systems and is developing their analogues. However, the chances for the implementation of this plan were, to put it mildly, low – Turkey refused such a deal, which would have become a fatal blow to both the authority of Erdogan (who positioned the purchase of the S-400 as an example of Turkish sovereignty) and Ankara’s ties with Moscow.
Therefore, it was necessary to resolve the conflict in a businesslike manner – that is, to make concessions to Turkey only where necessary.
The planes were never given to Ankara. After a year of hardships and doubts, Washington managed to attach F-35s, which were assembled for the Turkish Air Force by the private company Lockheed Martin. They are now known to be acquired by the Pentagon, and also pays for all the necessary modifications for the United States military.
As for the Turkish suppliers for the production of the F-35, then they had to make concessions. Initially, Congress was determined to kick Ankara out of the project as soon as possible and demanded that the Pentagon work faster on plans to replace Turkish suppliers with alternative manufacturers in the aircraft program. The deadline for the expulsion of the Turks from the project was set for March 2020, and almost $ 300 million was allocated for this noble cause. However, then they decided to postpone the deadlines, and still fulfill the contractual obligations with Turkish suppliers and buy components for the aircraft from them until 2022.
The fact is that Turkey produces more than 900 different aircraft parts, of which more than 400 are created exclusively by the Turks.
The cost of contractual obligations to Ankara is almost $ 9 billion – and the Turks themselves calculated that breaking these contracts would cost America $ 600 million, plus an increase in production costs from seven to nine million for each aircraft assembled. Therefore, according to Pentagon spokesman Mike Andrews, in order to avoid “costly, disruptive and wasteful contract breaks,” the decision was made to fulfill the existing contracts, and then switch to alternative suppliers.
Actually, the Turks themselves agreed to produce components, even taking into account Washington’s refusal to supply ready-made F-35s to Ankara. Big money, as well as production experience with its subsequent application in the Turkish military-industrial complex is more important than some kind of offense.