Ankara and Washington have engaged in series of negotiations to improve Ankara's aircraft fleet following a compensation of $1.4 billion after Washington removed the country from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Turkey bought Russian S-400 defence systems after US refused to respond to the need of Ankara.
Turkey bought Russian S-400 defence systems after US refused to respond to the need of Ankara. (Yasin Öztürk / AA)

A top Pentagon official said military upgrade of Turkey is a need in support of NATO.

Turkish and American defence delegations met in Washington on Wednesday to discuss the remaining issues after Ankara was removed from F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.

Laura Cooper, the Undersecretary of the Defense Ministry who also leads the American delegation in a statement said that the US “recognised the military modernisation needs of the TAF (Turkish Armed Forces).”

The statement also noted that the US and Turkish delegations were built on the talks between the US President Joe Biden and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and Minister of National Defence Hulusi Akar.

Cooper also "highlighted cooperation on the Black Sea" during a US-Turkey High Level Defense Group dialogue session at the Pentagon, spokesman Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth said in a statement. 

Following Turkey's removal from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, Ankara proposed compensation for a $1.4 billion payment it made for the jets by Washington selling it new F-16 fighter jets, and upgrading its existing fleet.

READ MORE: US proposes F-16 sales to Turkey in return for its F-35 investment: Erdogan

Turkey was removed from the F-35 program in 2019 by former President Donald Trump following Ankara's purchase of an advanced Russian air defense system that the US says could be used by the Kremlin to covertly obtain data on the F-35. 

Ankara has maintained, however, that the S-400 system would not be integrated into NATO systems, and said it poses no risks to the F-35.

The meeting on Tuesday between US and Turkish delegations "discussed a wide range of functional and regional issues. This included transnational priorities, such as defeating terrorism, and regional security in Afghanistan, Africa, South Caucasus, Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East," Semelroth said.

A follow-up meeting in Ankara was agreed upon by both sides, according to the Pentagon. It did not list a date.

READ MORE: Will not waste time if no outcome to F-35 issue - Turkey

Source: TRTWorld and agencies