The United States wants Turkey to remain in the F-35 fighter jet program and purchase the Patriot missile defense system, acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday.
"We absolutely do; we need Turkey to buy the Patriot," Shanahan answered when he was asked whether America wanted Turkey in the F-35 program.
America has been trying to persuade Turkey to buy Raytheon’s Patriot defense system, instead of the S-400. According to the US, it would be compromising the security of Lockheed Martin aircraft if Turkey has both, the American jet and Russian missile defense system.
The US even threatened to cancel Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program and also impose sanctions on it if Ankara persists on its planned purchase of Russian air defense systems earlier this month.
But, a decision to drop Turkey from the F-35 program would have broad repercussions, since Ankara helps manufacture parts for the aircraft, including components of the landing gear, cockpit displays and aircraft engines.
The country has so far remained unfazed in the face of threats from Washington. Turkey will become the first NATO member to acquire the system.
"Turkey will not go back on the purchase of the S-400 systems from Russia, regardless of what the US says," Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey said Sunday.
During last week, reports suggested that the US was considering halting the delivery of the jets to its NATO ally. It was also checking if there was an alternative to the F-35 engine overhaul depot somewhere in Europe, that is currently based in Eskisehir, Turkey.