An official United States delegation on a visit to Ankara has conveyed to Turkish officials a proposal for the sale of Raytheon Patriot missile defense systems to Turkey, the T24 news website reported on Thursday.
The delegation is currently holding talks with their interlocutors from Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as the Ministry of Defense.
The sale of the $3.5 billion Patriot missile system was approved by the US State Department in December, and the US Congress was notified of the proposed sale.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the State Department had approved the sale of 80 Patriot guidance-enhanced missiles and 60 other missiles to Ankara along with related equipment, including radar sets, engagement control stations and launching stations.
During his end of the year press briefing with journalists, Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had claimed the State Department approval was extended upon Turkey’s request for the purchase of Patriots, which was first conveyed in writing a year and a half earlier.
Çavuşoğlu had also stressed that the purchase of Patriots would not mean cancellation of the purchase of a Russian-made S-400 system, which Turkey’s selection process had prioritized after abandoning its initial choice of a Chinese system.
However, a statement by the US State Department earlier in 2018 had said that the US was working on the possible sale of Patriots in order to keep Turkey from buying a S-400 system.
Turkey has been objecting to the imposition of the cancelation of the S-400s as a prerequisite for the purchase of the Patriots.
US and NATO officials have repeatedly warned Ankara, however, that the Russian system cannot be integrated in to the NATO air and missile defense systems and that its purchase would put Ankara’s purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets in jeopardy as well as expose Turkey to possible sanctions by Washington.
Besides the negotiations regarding the price, Turkey had also reportedly sought more technology transfer from the US.