A U.S. delegation and Turkish officials have discussed a $3.5 billion sale of the Patriot missile and air defense systems and its technical aspects in a recent visit, dwelling on the compatibility of the U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets and Russian-made S-400 defense system.
During the visit in Ankara, the U.S. delegation informed their Turkish counterparts about the capabilities of the Patriot system, reiterating U.S. fears of Ankara's purchase of S-400s and its effects on F-35 fighter jets, according to Milliyet daily. In response to the delegation's concerns, the Turkish side assured them that the S-400 will be based on domestic software. The delegation underscored that the S-400 systems may obtain certain confidential information on the jets including the detection range and the operation mode.
As an answer to the U.S. delegation's concerns, Turkish officials assured the delegation the S-400 will be based on domestic software and will operate with its unique radar, detection and surveillance systems.
Ankara also discussed the provision of credits, technology transfer and joint production possibilities for the purchase of the Patriot missiles during the meeting.
In relation to the issue, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu Thursday emphasized that Turkey needs both the S-400 and Patriot systems, but technical delegations have a lot to talk about.
"We received the proposal from the delegation. The time of delivery is very important for us. We purchased the S-400, but we need more. The time of delivery and the price is critical," Çavuşoğlu said in a press briefing. He added that joint production and technology transfer are also other significant criteria for Turkey in the long and medium term.
The U.S. delegation has visited Turkey twice so far, on Tuesday and on Jan. 3, to negotiate the sale of the Patriot missile and air defense systems. The system includes 80 Patriot missiles and 60 other missiles along with radar sets, engagement control stations and launching stations. The talks between the delegations are expected to continue with the expectation of a decrease in the price down to $2.5 billion.
On Dec. 19, the U.S. State Department approved a possible sale of the Patriot air and missile defense system and notified Congress on the proposal, saying that Turkey continues to be an essential element of the national security and defense strategy. The move was regarded as a breakthrough move after Washington's delay of the F-35 jets to Turkey due to its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 defense system.
Ankara opposes any prerequisite in the contract that foresees the cancellation of the S-400 defense systems. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also previously said that the S-400 missile system negotiations between Ankara and Moscow are a done deal, and the U.S. was not in a position to say something about it, adding that Turkey needs both the Russian-made S-400 air defense systems and the U.S.-made F-35 fighter jets.
Presidential Spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said Tuesday that there was no relation between the purchase of the S-400s and the Patriots, adding that Ankara will not accept preconditions that stipulate the annulment of the S-400 purchase.
Turkey has been trying to purchase the air defense system from the U.S. for some time now but was never able to get a commitment from Washington when it was needed the most. As the U.S. failed to meet the defense needs of Turkey and endangered losing its NATO ally, Turkey turned its face to Russia and decided to purchase Russia's S-400 missile system in 2017, which caused a major political impasse between the two countries.
In the face of Ankara's decision, Washington complained that the Russian system is not compatible with the weapons of the NATO air and missile defense system and that purchasing the S-400 system would jeopardize Turkey's purchase of the F-35 fighter jets, possibly resulting in unavoidable negative consequences for U.S.-Turkey relations. Subsequently, U.S. President Donald Trump approved a defense budget law delaying the delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets to Turkey, citing Turkey's purchase from the Russians. Subsequently, the U.S. Congress passed a bill blocking the delivery of the jets until the Pentagon issues a report on Turkish-American relations in 90 days.