MOSCOW — Russia is prepared to sell Turkey some of its most advanced fighter jets, Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov said.
The possible sale comes after the U.S. booted its NATO ally from the F-35 fighter jet program in response to Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 air defense systems.
The U.S. decision was the culmination of two years of growing tension with Turkey, which launched efforts to to purchase four S-400 batteries in 2017. At various times, Washington suggested Turkey could face sanctions for purchasing Russian defense hardware.
In an official Rostec statement released Thursday, Chemezov was quoted as saying Russia is prepared to help Turkey procure advanced fighter jets. But the jets on offer are hardly an analogue of the stealthy F-35. Rather, Chemezov is offering up the Su-35, a heavily souped-up version of the Su-27.
"If our Turkish colleagues express a desire, we are ready to work out the deliveries of Su-35 fighter jets," Chemezov said.
The Su-35 is a heavy multirole fighter jet and has recently become a popular export item. One of the jet’s standout features is extreme maneuverability. There are several videos online of Su-35s performing the demanding and impressive Pugachev’s Cobra maneuver.
The jet had its combat debut in Syria in early 2016 to beef up escorts of Russian Su-24 and Su-34 fighter-bombers deployed in the conflict there. It was, ironically, part of Moscow’s message to Ankara after Turkish air defenses shot down a Russian Su-24 in November 2015.
The Su-35 is not a stealth fighter, like Russia’s developmental Su-57. The Su-57 project is years behind schedule, and expectations have been downgraded several times in recent years. The Russian Air Force has focused on more Su-35 procurements while delaying the Su-57.
Matthew Bodner covered Russian affairs for Defense News.