We need Turkey to buy the Patriot: Pentagon chief
WASHINGTON – Reuters
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has said he wants Turkey to remain in the F-35 fighter jet program, but added that Ankara needed to buy the Patriot missile defense system as Washington looks to increase pressure on its NATO ally to drop the purchase of Russia’s S-400 defense system.
At a House of Representatives Armed Services Committee hearing on March 26, Shanahan was asked whether the United States wanted Turkey in the F-35 program.
“We absolutely do; we need Turkey to buy the Patriot,” he answered.
Washington has opposed Turkey’s plans to buy Russia’s S-400 air defense system, on concerns that would compromise the Lockheed Martin Corp-made F-35’s security.
In the strongest signal yet from Washington that Ankara cannot have both the advanced aircraft and the S-400, officials have told Reuters the United States could soon freeze preparations for delivering the F-35 to Turkey.
Although Turkey has held out the prospect of buying both the S-400 and the Patriot system, the United States has warned Turkey it will take its offer of Patriots off the table unless it changes course.
On March 24, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his country will not go back on the purchase of the S-400 systems from Russia, regardless of what the United States says.