The United States is reportedly in talks with Turkey to convince them they should purchase the Raytheon Co. Patriot defense system as a potential alternative to the Russian S-400 systems, a Reuters report revealed Monday.
Turkey, a NATO member country, has alarmed the military alliance by reportedly agreeing to buy the Russian missile system, which is not interoperable with NATO-approved weapons and thus violate the alliance’s agreed upon requirements for hardware.
The revelation reportedly came to light when U.S. Ambassador Tina Kaidanow, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs, told the media that several United States government officials at the Farnborough Airshow in London were holding meetings about the potential deal to sell Patriot missiles to Turkey to help boost U.S. defense trade.
According to the pro-Turkish government newspaper Sabah, Turkish officials speaking on condition of anonymity said the deal was not confirmed and another official reportedly said, “Turkey does not consider Patriot as an alternative to the S-400s.”
In December, Turkey signed an agreement to buy Russian S-400s. In April, Russia announced it had begun producing two S-400 air defense systems for Turkey.
“We have started to execute the contract,” Alexandre Miheev, general director of the manufacturing company Rosoboronexport, said, according to Turkish newspaper Hurriyet. “We are not talking about deliveries of S-400; the production of the air defense system has started,” he said.
The delivery is reportedly expected to start in either late 2019 or early 2020. However, during an April meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two leaders announced their intentions to move up the 2019 delivery date of the S-400s.
“We have decided with President Erdogan in our meeting to speed up the delivery of the S-400 systems,” Putin said at the conference. “Our Turkish colleagues made a request in the meetings. We will accelerate the process.”
Turkey reportedly needed the defense systems to defend its nation, Syria, and Iraq against threats from the Islamic State terrorists and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which the Turkish government considers to be terrorists.
U.S. official Kaidanow expressed concern over the sale of Russian arms to Turkey. The AFP also suggested that if Ankara proceeds with the purchase of Russian S-400s, the U.S. has warned Turkey could face sanctions. “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.
The AFP reported that the NATO alliance is worried that Turkey’s intent to deploy S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems could provide Russia with access to a great deal of intelligence on Western war equipment.