US makes an offer to Turkey for the sale of Patriot missiles

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The United States has formally made an offer to Turkey for the sale of multibillion dollar Patriot air defense systems, the Anadolu Agency has reported, in a bid to increase its pressure on the latter’s purchase of Russian-made S-400 systems.

The Agency, citing officials, informed that a U.S. delegation is holding talks with their counterparts at the Defense Industry, Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry. It said the U.S. delegation submitted the offer for the sale of Patriots to Turkey but did not give details on the offer.

The move comes after the U.S. State Department approved on Dec. 18 a possible foreign military sale of the Patriot air and missile defense system to Turkey for an estimated total of $3.5 billion.

According to the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, the State Department approved the sale of 80 Patriot MIM-104E Guidance Enhanced Missiles (GEM-T) missiles, 60 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) missiles and associated equipment.

It also had notified the U.S. Congress on the sale.

Turkey had conveyed its interest in purchasing the Patriot systems to the U.S. in September 2017 but it had to wait 15 months to receive a positive response.

Turkey says it would buy Patriot systems from the U.S. but not on the condition of cancelling the S-400 systems from Russia.

Turkish diplomatic sources say Turkey’s chances to drop S-400s was “zero”, in an indication that it will never link its trade with Russia on defense industry with the U.S.

The U.S., however, urges Turkey that the purchase of the S-400s will endanger the flight safety of F-35 aircrafts. Known as stealth fighters, F-35s are believed to be the most sophisticated aircrafts. Turkey wants to renew its aircraft fleets with the F-35s as the first two fighters are believed to be deployed to a Turkish base in the third quarter of this year.

Turkey says it will take all precautions and will develop own software in using the S-400s so that F-35s or any other NATO equipment will not be negatively affected.

Turkey’s criteria in selecting which air defense system it will purchase are its cost and technology transfer.

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