A US technical team held two-day talks in Turkey on Tuesday and Wednesday to express specific concerns over Ankara’s purchase of a Russian S-400 air defense system particularly in regards to the flight safety of F-35 aircraft, the Hürriyet Daily News reported.
The US has formally made an offer to Turkey for the sale of the multi-billion dollar Patriot air defense system in a bid to increase its pressure on Ankara’s purchase of the S-400 system.
The US offer came after the State Department on Dec. 18 approved a possible foreign military sale of the Patriot air and missile defense system to Turkey for an estimated total of $3.5 billion.
According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the State Department approved the sale of 80 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM-T), 60 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles and associated equipment.
Turkey said it would buy the Patriot system from the US but not on the condition of cancelling the S-400 system from Russia.
There is no relation between the purchase of S-400s and Patriots, presidential aide İbrahim Kalın said on Tuesday
“Turkey is able to purchase any kind of military technology from any country, within the scope of its national security interests. As for the Patriot offer, this is a negotiation process. We are discussing how much the offer meets our needs,” he said.
“We have three fundamental criteria; one is price, the second is delivery date and the third is technology transfer and co-production. If these conditions are satisfied, the Patriot missiles can be purchased,” he added.
“If the Patriot offer is not as good as the S400 offer, we won’t make a deal,” Kalın said.
“There is a point we have reached with the S-400s, in terms of price, delivery date and co-production,” he said.
The US has long been urging Turkey to cancel its plans to purchase the $2.5 billion S-400 anti-ballistic missile system because it would affect the flight safety of fifth generation F-35 aircraft.
Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States and a low level partner in the jet’s production, is set to receive the first of 100 of the jets on order at a rollout ceremony in the United States scheduled for June 21.
It is concerned that Turkey’s combination of S-400 batteries and F-35 fighters would give Russia a chance to closely study the aircraft and take measures to defeat it. A report issued by the Pentagon in November 2018 had suggested Turkey’s removal from the F-35 production program if Turkey does not cancel plans for the S-400s.