Turkey Suggests it Could Still Buy Patriot Systems Amid US Pressure Over S-400s
Earlier, a high-ranking US official told Turkish media that Washington was still considering slapping Ankara with sanctions over its purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defence system amid fears that it could pose a threat to NATO and the F-35.
Turkey remains ready to purchase the US Patriot air defence system if it gets a good price from the US side, Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin has indicated.
“The first batch of S-400s will be delivered to Turkey by the end of next year, and then joint production will begin. But Turkey never settles on a single proposal, and we need to be seen from this perspective. If we reach an agreement with the United States on its Patriot systems, if we get a good offer and reach an agreement on joint production, we will accept such an offer,” the spokesman said, speaking at a forum on Russian-Turkish relations in Ankara on Thursday.
Kalin added that Ankara’s purchase of the Russian air defence systems were aimed at boosting Turkey’s defensive capabilities. “We are not going to attack anyone; we are just going to protect ourselves form possible attacks,” he stressed.On Wednesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu hinted that Turkey may look to purchase the US air defence systems, telling reporters that even though the S-400 deal was a “done deal,” Ankara still needs “more” air defences, and “prefer[s] to buy from [its] allies.”
Earlier this week, a Pentagon spokesman told Sputnik that the Department of Defense and Congress were still hopeful to find “viable alternatives” to the S-400 deal for Turkey. “We’ve got ongoing diplomatic discussions on that,” DoD spokesman Eric Pahon said.
Last week, a high-ranking source in Washington told Anadolu Agency that the US may still slap Turkey with sanctions over its decision to purchase the S-400s, saying that Trump administration was “not optimistic” about the issue. Previously, the US threatened to block the transfer of F-35 jets to Turkey, in spite of substantial Turkish financial, R&D and production involvement in the creation of the fifth-generation stealth fighter jet.
Moscow agreed to sell Ankara four S-400 battalion sets worth $2.5 billion in December 2017, with 55 percent of the contract covered by Russian loans. The deal led to a firestorm of criticism from the United States, with US officials and defence observers arguing that the S-400s could pose a “threat” to the F-35, presumably by allowing Turkey to test just how formidable the F-35’s stealth systems are when matched up against the Russian air defence platform. S-400 deliveries are expected to begin in October 2019.Presently, S-400s are fielded by Russia, Belarus, and China. Moscow signed a $5 billion ruble-denominated deal on the sale of ten battalion sets of S-400s to India last month. China expects to receive another batch of S-400s by 2020. Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam have also expressed interest in the air defence system.
Designed to stop enemy aircraft, drones, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and an altitude of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defence system in Russia’s arsenal.
Source: Sputnik International