Lockheed Martin’s F-35 is a fifth-generation fighter jet (dubbed stealth, given the radar’s high degree of stealth) and currently has the highest yield and capability. The project is part of an international consortium led by the United States, but with the presence of several countries, including Turkey, which has purchased 30 conventional F-35A model jets and also manufactured some of the jet’s components.
Four of the F-35As were handed over to the Turks for training in the US before bringing the new planes home, but that never happened. Shortly after delivery, Turkey announced the purchase of the S400 air defense system from Russia, which at the time was considered the most advanced air defense missile in the world.
The U.S. has suspended Turkey’s F-35 program due to concerns that the Russians who will install, train and maintain the S400s will receive intelligence from the F-35s on the ground or in flight, and no Turkish aircraft have left their U.S. territory to hold.
Turkey continued with the acquisition of the S400 and, since then, a “rift” has been created within NATO, as one of the members was acquiring Russian products even though the alliance was made to deter Russian actions.
Years later and with neither side giving an inch, the matter returned to the negotiating table this week, as Turkey says it will accept the entry of Scandinavian countries into NATO, as long as it receives the F-35s it asked for (and the which still continues to supply parts).
According to Bloomberg , Turkey’s order list includes the F-35s plus F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets and upgrades to them, as well as asking Sweden and Finland to lift arms sales restrictions to the Turks, which was put in place when the country invaded Syria in 2019.
Without Turkey’s endorsement, the two Scandinavian countries cannot join NATO, as all members are required to vote in favor of the application for entry.
Rumors about part of the orders being fulfilled are circulating, pointing out that the US can release the purchase of more F-16s and the Scandinavians remove the restrictions, but that the F-35 only leaves if the S400 leaves together, in a negotiation that could include shipping of these systems to Ukraine itself.
Despite shooting down a Russian fighter jet in 2015 in Syria and providing Ukraine’s main attack drone, the Bayraktar, Turkey has taken a “neutral” position in the war, without closing the Bosphorus Strait that gives access to the Black Sea or banning Russian airline flights.