U.S. should respond assertively to Turkey’s S-400 testing

The United States should make an example of NATO member Turkey after it reportedly carried out a live-fire test of a Russian-made S-400 missile system on Friday, two analysts wrote in the National Interest on Monday.

The United States says that Turkey’s possession of the S-400 potentially threatens the security of advanced NATO weapons. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's refusal to cancel the missile deal, agreed in 2018, has resulted in the ejection of Turkey from the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. 

"With Erdoğan once again brushing aside American concerns, failing to respond assertively could leave Ankara and others with the impression that they can ignore Washington with few consequences," said Bradley Bowman, senior director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and Major Shane “Axl” Praiswater, an officer in the U.S. Air Force and visiting military analyst at FDD.

"After all, an ally should not acquire a cutting-edge air defence system from the leading threat to the alliance," they said.

Following reports on Turkey's S-400 testing, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Jim Risch, labelled the move as "unacceptable behaviour" from a NATO ally.

NATO and the United States have introduced a so-called-friend-or-foe identification system for aircraft, but Washington would not allow the S-400s access to it, the analysts said. That would severely limit Turkey's capabilities as a NATO ally and increase the risks for U.S. and allied pilots operating in or near Turkish airspace, they said.