On November 25th, Turkey began testing its Russian S-400 missile defense system at the Murted Air Base near Ankara. It initially began by testing the radars associated with the system by using US-made F-16 Viper and F-4 Phantom III fighter jets.
This move goes directly against any US threats that activating the system for which Turkey paid $2.5 billion could lead to more sanctions. Turkey was removed from the F-35 joint strike fighter program over the purchase of the Russian S-400 Triumph missile defense system.
Video footage of the tests so far show F-16s and F-4s flying over Murted and examples of the 91N6E surveillance and acquisition radar and the 96L6E air search and acquisition radar, the latter elevated on an 40V6M mast.
S-400 Triumf HSS'nin bugün Ankara'da başlayan ve 2 gün sürecek testlerinden görüntüler.
Çalışmalarda alçak ve yüksek uçuş yapan F-16'lar arasındaki radar bağlantısı test ediliyor.
91N6E radar platformu, 40V6M-R direği ve 96L6e alçak/orta/yüksek irtifa tespit radarı görülüyor. pic.twitter.com/u9ApdjhNVV
— XXVII (@XXVII27_) November 25, 2019
The planned tests were announced by the Turkish ministry of defense, as well as the Ankara governorate.
“Within the scope of some projects carried out in coordination with the Presidency of Defense Industries, F-16 aircraft and other aircraft belonging to the (Turkish) Air Force will carry out low and high altitude test flights on Monday and Tuesday [November 25th and 26th] in the skies of Ankara,” the governorate said on November 24th.
Turkey will activate as planned the S-400 missile defense systems acquired from Russia, once the relevant military personnel complete their training, the Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said on November 21st.
The tests come after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he told President Donald Trump during a meeting on November 13th that Turkey wouldn’t give up on deployment of the systems, risking penalties championed in Congress.
Following the meeting, Trump said that the activation of the S-400 posed “very serious challenges” in the relations between Turkey and the US.
“Turkey’s acquisition of sophisticated Russian military equipment, such as the S-400, creates some very serious challenges for us, and we are talking about it constantly,” Trump had said alongside Erdogan. “We talked about it today. We’re talking about it in the future. Hopefully, we’ll be able to resolve that situation.”
Immediately after the tests began, Lieutenant Colonel Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman warned that Turkey was acting not in accordance with its commitments to NATO.
“Turkey’s insistence on moving forward with the S-400 is inconsistent with its commitments to NATO and will have impacts on Turkish interoperability with the alliance,” she said.
The US Senate is also hard at work to introduce some hasty sanctions on Turkey for activating the system.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch vowed to bring up legislation in early December that would punish Turkey’s political leadership, its energy industry and financial system for its military action against Kurdish forces in northern Syria allied with the United States in the battle against Islamic State (ISIS).
“I don’t have any choice at this point,” Risch said, while referring to the S-400 system, he said, “We want to give him some incentive to think more clearly about this.”
Risch’s proposal is a bipartisan bill, together with Senator Bob Menendez.
The three sanction proposals include a provision to enforce the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which could freeze Turkish assets, restrict visas and limit access to credit as punishment for purchasing the Russian-made weapons.
The other Senate proposal, sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham and Chris Van Hollen and would also prohibit U.S. purchases of Turkish sovereign debt.
The House bill and the two Senate versions would all sanction Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank.
Van Hollen said he and Graham were ready to support whatever measure would move the fastest through Congress.
“You don’t reward conduct that Erdogan engaged in with a White House visit,” Van Hollen said. “Erdogan seems determined to move forward with the S-400. We’re making it clear that will come with a significant cost.”
Two weeks after his WH visit, Erdogan is thumbing his nose at Trump, the U.S. + NATO, and crossing another red line on S-400s.
Existing law requires Trump to impose sanctions. Pompeo must also confront Turkey about its latest ‘safe zone’ violations and attacks against the Kurds. https://t.co/vNCbdf8sm6
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) November 25, 2019
Lindsey Graham warned Ankara in a speech that buying the S-400 system and activating it would result in the Senate passing a sanctions bill — and that “will be the beginning of the end of the relationship between us and Erdogan’s Turkey.”
As it has become customary, Lindsey Graham makes claims and undertakes actions that do not nearly fit the position of a simple senator in the senate, and not a high-ranked official in the Trump administration.
MSM is also filled with reports of how Turkey would use the chance to steal valuable specifications and information of NATO equipment and provide it to Russia, despite Ankara repeatedly saying that no such thing would take place.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- US Threatens Sanctions On Serbia, Scrambles To Thwart Possible S-400 Purchase
- Satellite Images: Russian S-400 In Operational Mode Deployment In Turkey
- Russia’s S-400 Triumph Air Defense Missile System (Infographics)
- Turkey Removed From F-35 Program Over Russian S-400 Purchase