U.S. weapons maker Raytheon Co on Thursday said it was still ready to sell its Patriot missile defense system to Turkey if that country changed its mind about buying a rival system offered by a Chinese firm that is under U.S. sanctions.
Raytheon Chief Executive William Swanson said Turkey chose the Chinese system based on a lower procurement price, but it would likely get a less capable system that would be difficult to integrate with NATO's Patriot system, and could be more expensive to operate in the long run.
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"We will see what happens but if Turkey runs into problems," Swanson told analysts on an earnings call, noting that Turkey was still negotiating the terms of its agreement with the Chinese firm. "We remain positioned and stand ready to help them with Patriot," he said.
The U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Francis Ricciardone, told reporters on Thursday that the United States was concerned Turkey's decision to build a missile defense system with a Chinese firm could undermine allied air defenses, but dismissed talk of a broader rift with Ankara.
Ricciardone said Washington had begun "expert" talks with Turkey to assess the impact of its plans to co-produce the long-range air and missile defense system with China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, or CPMIEC.
CPMIEC is under U.S. sanctions for violations of the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act. Turkey has said it is likely to sign the $3.4 billion deal with CPMIEC but that its decision is not yet final.
Swanson said U.S. weapons systems used state-of-the-art technology, which made them more reliable and cheaper to operate in the longer term.
"(If) you don't take that into account you're going to be really sorry with some stuff you bought," he told analysts.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)