US Still Hopes to Sway Turkey to Buy Patriot Missiles over S-400

Patriot air defense missile systems during Exercise Patriot Shock in Capu Midia, Romania on November 4, 2016. The weeklong exercise was designed to test the deployment readiness and joint interoperability. Image: DoD/Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball
Patriot air defense missile systems during Exercise Patriot Shock in Capu Midia, Romania on November 4, 2016. The weeklong exercise was designed to test the deployment readiness and joint interoperability. Image: DoD/Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

FARNBOROUGH, England -- While there is no formal deal in place, U.S. officials are still hoping to convince Turkey to buy the Patriot missile system.

The catch? Turkey would need to dump its newly inked deal with Russia to procure the S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

"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 in various places, including in Europe but also elsewhere," said Tina Kaidanow, acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of Political Military Affairs at the State Department.

Kaidanow -- one of the most senior officials attending the show on behalf of the Trump administration amid the trade adviser's absence -- spoke with reporters via telephone conference call Monday.

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"In the case of Turkey, that, in our view, is Patriots and we're trying to give the Turks some understanding of what we can do with respect to Patriots," she said.

Both Lockheed Martin Corp. and Raytheon Co. build parts of the long-range Patriot SAM system. It is unclear which versions are being pitched to Turkey; however, Raytheon earlier this year hinted there is another country interested in buying the PAC-3 MSE advanced system, according to a report from Defense News last week.

Officials have touted the Patriot to Turkey for years. It expressed interest in the system after the war in Syria began in 2012.

U.S. officials, including members of Congress and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in recent months have not been happy that NATO member Turkey, which has bought the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, made a deal for Russia's S-400 system, known by Moscow as the "F-35 killer."

Kaidanow said customers should consider future transactions when dealing with adversary systems.

"That's true of a number of our partners. It's not just ... the Turks, as I said," she said.

According to the Daily Sabah Diplomacy, a Turkish news site, Turkey has not ruled out purchase of the Patriot system. Unidentified officials who spoke to the paper said that while no deal is in place, conversations have been had about the system before. But the Patriot isn't a suitable alternative to the S-400, the officials told Daily Sabah.

In March, Aksam, a Turkish newspaper, reported that conversations were expected to continue on a potential Patriot buy.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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