In an attempt to talk Turkey out of purchasing the Russian S-400, a surface-to-air missile system with anti-stealth aircraft capabilities, US acting assistant secretary for political-military affairs Tina Kaidanow said that the US Department of State is in talks with Ankara to sell the nation the Raytheon MIM-104 Patriot.
The talks comes as opposition from the US Senate, House of Representatives and Department of State to the transfer of Lockheed Martin F-35s to Turkey have put the delivery of the stealth fighter in jeopardy.
A bipartisan group of US representatives sent a letter to US Secretary of Defense James Mattis on 15 June, asking him to block the F-35 deliveries. The US Senate passed the 2019 National Defense Authorisation Act on 18 June with a clause blocking deliveries as well.
Political opposition comes despite Lockheed Martin having officially presented the fifth-generation aircraft to Turkish officials during a ceremony on 21 June in Fort Worth, Texas.
The Almaz-Antey S-400 Triumf system is one of the most advanced surface-to-air missile products on the export market, advertised by Rosoboronexport as having an "anti-stealth range" of up to 81nm (150km). Defence experts worry that the system could be used by Turkey or Russia to find vulnerabilities in the F-35, information that could then be turned over to foes of the USA.
"Can we get our friends and partners overseas to understand really, truly, this is a serious bit of business? We're hopeful that they will take it into account as they consider their purchases. We want them to understand the downsides, the real serious downsides to making these acquisitions, and particularly the S-400 acquisitions from the Russians, and to continue to – instead, to look to our systems and to put interoperability and all the other things we care about first," said Kaidanow. "We’re trying to give the Turks some understanding of what we can do with respect to Patriots."
Turkey had expressed interest in the Patriot missile and the talks have been ongoing for a while, said Kevin Fahey, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, in a separate press conference.