May 30 2018

U.S. generals sleepless as Turkey awaits F-35s – analysis

Turkey’s imminent purchase of F-35 steatlh aircraft is keeping generals at the Pentagon and in Tel Aviv awake at night, said Anshel Pfeffer, international affairs correspondent for Haaretz newspaper.

NATO allowing Turkey to get its hands on these most advanced aircraft, which some NATO members aren’t receiving, is ill-advised because the country is much less a of a strategic asset and in many ways a liability, Pfeffer said in an analysis.

The F-35 isn’t just a new aircraft, it’s a generational leap in technology, with top secret stealth technology. Not only will President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a political Islamist who is following a non-NATO agenda in Syria and elsewhere of late, have this technology but also the opportunity to work out how to detect the planes and disrupt intelligence gathering and communication, he said.

Ankara is drawing closer to Russia and its deployment of S-400 Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles, on order from the Kremlin, alongside the F-35s, would reveal the plane’s secrets to Russian manufacturers and allow it to compromise its effectiveness.

Turkey is due to receive the first of the 100 planes it has ordered on June 21 and will use the aircraft for training pilots in the United States. The first two jets will be deployed at Turkey’s Malatya airbase within a few months and will be used to battle Kurdish fighters in Syria and elsewhere.

Erdogan’s Islamist agenda, his sponsorship of Islamist militant groups in Syria independent of NATO and his attacks on Syrian Kurds, the most effective fighting force against Islamic State (ISIS) make Turkey a security risk, Pfeffer said.

Erdogan also ousted Turkey’s pro-NATO generals in the aftermath of a failed military coup in July 2016, replacing them with Eurasianists. Meanwhile, Turkey’s most senior intelligence service personnel have long been allied with Iran, Pfeffer said.