US team to visit Turkey to convey concerns over Russian S-400s
A U.S. technical team will have 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 aircraft.
The U.S. has formally made an offer to Turkey for the sale of the multibillion dollar Patriot air defense systems after the U.S. 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.
Turkey says it would buy Patriot systems from the U.S. but not on the condition of cancelling the S-400 systems from Russia.
The U.S. has long been urging Turkey to cancel its plans to purchase $2.5 billion worth Russian-made 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 S-400s.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Jan. 10 replied to a question on the latest move by the U.S. on selling Patriots, the sophisticated long-range anti-ballistic missile systems, to Turkey.
“The U.S. made its first offer for the Patriots. But we are not in a position to defend our deal with Russia on the S-400s. We have an immediate need to cover air space. In fact, we may purchase Patriots in the future as well,” Çavuşoğlu said in a televised interview.
But, he added, Turkey will never accept pressure from the U.S. on dropping the purchase of the S-400s from Russia to deploy Patriots. “The S-400s are an accomplished deal. We never break our promises,” he said.