Strict export controls may have led Turkey to buy S-400, says U.S. secretary

U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said on Tuesday that strict U.S. export controls may have led to Turkey’s purchase Russia’s S-400 air defence system, Turkish state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The Turkish government’s move last December to purchase Russian S-400 missile defence systems, which some experts fear could threaten the interoperability of NATO’s integrated defence systems, has become a source of tension between Turkey and the United States.

When asked if Turkey’s deal to buy missile defence systems from Russia was causing problems with NATO, Wilson said: “I don’t connect those problems directly with the NATO alliance.”

Wilson instead hinted that Washington’s strict export controls could be behind Ankara’s decision to purchase the missiles from Russia, the agency said.

Noting that the United States, “needs to figure out how to be better allies”, Wilson said that at times U.S. allies were forced  “into a situation where they want to buy unmanned aircraft or even intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft that are built by China”.

Wilson pointed out that Turkey’s purchase of the S400 systems presented some operational problems that the departments of state and defence were discussing with Ankara, “particularly as it relates to the location of advanced aircraft in Turkey … like the F-35”.

The United States is scheduled to deliver the first of an order of F-35 advanced fighter jets to Turkey in June, but a bill making its way through Congress aims to block the sale.