As Turkey’s relations with the Western Bloc, and with Washington in particular, have continued to deteriorate, Ankara has increasingly sought to cement its cooperation with Russia in a number of fields including trade and defence. Relations between Turkey and other Western states notably deteriorated following a failed military coup attempt in 2016, in which not only NATO member states failed to offer their support to the government in Ankara, but a number of Western aligned states in the Middle East were found to have been directly involved in supporting and aiding in the organisation of the attempt to overthrow the government. This led to suspicions that a number of Western powers may well have been involved in or at the very least known of the coup and failed to warn Turkey, leading the Turkish government to strengthen defence ties with what it viewed as more reliable partners – foremost of which was Russia. As the United States has threatened Turkey with further economic pressure and harsh sanctions, also moving to freeze sales of F-35 stealth fighters already paid for by Ankara, the Asian state has according to a number of sources considered acquiring Russian made Su-57 next generation combat jets in their stead.
Su-57 fighters would not only provide Turkey with an effective complement to its advanced Russian made S-400 surface to air missile systems, a weapons platform which the United States has exerted much pressure on Ankara not to acquire, but they are also far more capable than the F-35 in most of their combat capabilities, often by a considerable margin, including speed, operational altitude, manoeuvrability, range, payload and sensors – with the only major advantage enjoyed by the lighter U.S. platform being its lower radar cross section and possibly a marginally more powerful radar. Early production variants of the Su-57 will provide an analogue to the American F-22 Raptor, a heavy air superiority fighter designed as a far more costly complement to the F-35 with far superiority capabilities in air to air combat, and it is these early variants which Russia is likely to export to Turkey should Ankara seek these fighters. With a comparable acquisition cost to the F-35, a fraction of that of the F-
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