Pentagon reveals Turkey risks more than F-35 program with S-400 purchase
Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 missile systems could result in Ankara’s potential expulsion from the F-35 program, as well affecting as its acquisition of other weapons including Boeing Co.’s CH-47F Chinook helicopter and Lockheed’s F-16 fighter and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, Pentagon report sent to the Congress said.
Plans by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to buy the S-400 air defence missile systems have increased tensions between between Ankara and Washington, which maintains the systems are compatible with those of NATO and has said it will take the unprecedented step against a NATO ally of impose sanctions should Turkey go through with the purchase.
Legislators in Washington have called on the White House to suspend sales of the aircraft F-35 stealth fighter aircraft to Turkey - which it has already invested more than $1.25 billion into - however, there is more at risk in the way of weapons for Turkey.
U.S. lawmakers are currently reviewing what steps to take regarding the looming Russian systems purchase.
Ankara signed a deal for $3.5 Billion for the purchase of 109 Black Hawk helicopters in 2016 while receiving its second batch of CH-47 Chinook helicopters from the United States this summer. The contract was for a total of 11 helicopters.
Pentagon report said that the administration "has developed an alternative package to provide Turkey with a strong, capable, NATO-interoperable air and missile defense system that meets all ofTurkey's defense requirements. Parts of the package require Congressional Notification. Congressional support for Foreign Military Sales and Direct Commercial Sales to Turkey is essential to provide a real alternative that would encourage Turkey to walk away from a damaging S-400 acquisition."
Report also said:
"Turkey shares key regional interests with the United States, although Turkey's cooperation with Russia and Iran, illiberal domestic trajectory, and unjust detention of U.S. citizens and locally employed Turkish staff have been key bilateral irritants."
The report continued:
From the Turkish perspective, U.S. support for the Kurdish Peoples' Protection Units (YPG) in Syria and perceived inaction in response to its request to extradite Fethullah Gulen have undermined U.S.-Turkey relations. Turkey perceives growing regional security threats from aircraft and ballistic missiles, and is frustrated with its protracted, decade-long search for an air and missile defense system. It is in the context of these tensions that Turkey first announced an agreement to procure the S-400 surface-to-air missile system from Russia in July 2017.