Turkey’s purchase of Russian S-400s would block Patriot sale, jeopardize F-35 participation: US official

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TEXAS, USA - JUNE 21: An F-35 fighter jet is seen as Turkey takes delivery of its first F-35 fighter jet with a ceremony in Forth Worth, Texas, USA on June 21, 2018. Atilgan Ozdil / Anadolu Agency

An unnamed US official has claimed that Turkey’s purchase of a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system would end the process to acquire Raytheon Patriots, put Turkey’s participation in the US-led F-35 program at risk and expose Turkey to possible sanctions, the NTV news website reported on Thursday.

Talks with a Turkish delegation currently on a visit to Washington have been fruitful, the anonymous official told NTV.

The disagreement between the two NATO allies has been going on since Turkey announced in December 2017 that it had concluded an agreement with Russia to take delivery of two S-400s, Russia’s most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system.

Ankara also seeks to acquire 100 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets in the coming years, with the first two delivered in June 2018.

US and NATO officials have repeatedly warned Ankara that the S-400s cannot be integrated into NATO’s air and missile defense system and that their purchase would put at risk Ankara’s purchase of F-35s.

The Russian S-400 was designed to shoot down US aircraft at greater ranges and altitudes than older systems. US officials are concerned that sensitive F-35 technology designed to evade such a system could be compromised and used to improve the Russian air defense system if Turkey takes possession of both systems, according to a previous Bloomberg report.

Hulusi Akar, Turkey’s defense minister, had announced in October 2018 that installation of the S-400 systems would begin in October 2019.

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