US delegation holds two-day Patriot talks in Ankara
A U.S. technical team held two-day talks in Turkey on Jan. 15-16 to express specific concerns over the latter’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense systems particularly in regards to the flight safety of F-35 aircrafts.
The U.S. has formally made an offer to Turkey for the sale of the multibillion dollar Patriot air defense systems in a bid to increase its pressure on the latter’s purchase of the S-400 systems.
The U.S.’s offer came after the State Department approved on Dec. 18 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 says it would buy Patriot systems from the U.S. but not on the condition of cancelling the S-400 systems from Russia.
There is no relation between the purchase of S-400s and Patriots, presidential aide İbrahim Kalın said on Jan. 15.
“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, Patriot missiles can be purchased. In case these conditions are not satisfied, the negotiations will continue,” he added.
Kalın also stressed that an offer about the Patriots, which will fall behind the S-400 offer, will not make the way for much advancement.
“There is a point we have reached with the S-400, in terms of price, delivery date and co-production,” he said.
The U.S. has long been urging Turkey to cancel its plans to purchase the $2.5 billion worth S-400 anti-ballistic missile system because it would harm the flight safety of fifth generation F-35 aircraft, dubbed the stealth fighter.
It is concerned that Turkey’s combination of S-400 batteries and F-35 fighters as one would give Russia a chance to closely study the aircraft and take measures in order to defeat it. A report issued by 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.