The U.S. State Department is reportedly floating the idea of selling Turkey the Raytheon Co Patriot missile defense system in an effort to dissuade them from purchasing Russia’s S-400 system.
Ambassador Tina Kaidanow, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, told reporters on Monday that several U.S. government officials at the Farnborough Airshow were meeting with Turkey officials to discuss defense trade, Reuters reports.
Russia and Turkey made a deal in December 2017 to supply Ankara with S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, a deal worth nearly $2.5 billion.
Kaidanow told reporters that officials were “trying to give the Turks an understanding of what we can do with respect to Patriot,” but did not give specific details of a trade deal.
The deal between Turkey and Russia worried Turkey’s NATO allies because the S-400 system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture, which goes against the alliance’s collective defense pledge.
NATO allies pledge to integrate their ships, weapons and planes so that they can all work in tandem, however in a statement by the Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) in December, Turkey said the S-400 batteries would be independently operated by Turkey personnel, not Russian advisors.
The Western allies of NATO were already wary of Russia’s military presence in the Middle East, and this deal between Ankara and Moscow worsened those relations.
The U.S. Senate passed a $716 billion defense policy bill in June that included an added bipartisan clause that blocks the transfer of F-35 fighter jets to Turkey, citing the state’s intention to acquire the Russian-made air defense systems as one of the main reasons for removing them from the fighter jet program. (RELATED: US Blocks Sale Of F-35 Fighter Jets To Turkey)
The S-400 system is equipped with technology that is capable of targeting stealth warplanes like Lockheed Martin’s F-35, which experts say threatens the security and data collection of the fighter jets.
Despite efforts by the House and Senate to remove Turkey from the program over their Russian deal as well as their current imprisonment of a U.S. citizen, Lockheed Martin held their traditional roll out ceremony for the delivery of jets in Texas on June 21. (RELATED: Lockheed Martin Moves Forward With Sale Of F-35 Fighter Jets To Turkey Despite Congressional Bans)
“Ultimately we are concerned that by purchasing these systems from the Russians it will be supportive of some of the least good behavior that we have seen from them (Russia) in various places including Europe but also elsewhere,” Kaidanow said.
This report comes at the same time U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin for a historic summit in Helsinki, Finland. Trump said he and Putin will have an “extraordinary relationship” after the meeting.
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