March 26, 2019 / 3:24 PM / a month ago

'We need Turkey to buy the Patriot' missile defense system - acting Pentagon chief

WASHINGTON, March 26 (Reuters) - Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Tuesday that he wanted NATO ally Turkey to remain in the F-35 fighter jet program, but added that Ankara needed to buy the Patriot missile defense system.

At a House of Representatives Armed Services Committee hearing, Shanahan was asked whether the United States wanted Turkey in the F-35 program.

"We absolutely do; we need Turkey to buy the Patriot," he answered.

Washington has opposed Turkey's plans to buy Russia's S-400 air defense system, on concerns that would compromise the Lockheed Martin Corp-made F-35's security. In the strongest signal yet from Washington that Ankara cannot have both the advanced aircraft and the S-400, officials have told Reuters the United States could soon freeze preparations for delivering the F-35 to Turkey.

The Patriot system is made by Raytheon Co. (Reporting by Idrees Ali; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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