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Turkey used S-400 systems to track US made F-16 fighter jets.

Image Credit: NATO

It has been revealed that Turkish Russian made S-400 systems’ radar was used to track F-16s in the Eastern Mediterranean during last month Eunomia joint exercise US had with Greece, Italy, France and Cyprus.

Two lawyers sent a letter to US secretary of state Mike Pompeo to investigate this further. The lawyers Sens. Chris Van Hollen and James Lankford urged Mike Pompeo to investigate what is considered as Russia’s possible ability to gather intelligence on F-16 through Turkish S-400’s radars.

We write concerning public reports that Turkey has activated the radars of its Russian-made S400 anti-aircraft system, in order to detect US made F-16 fighter jets returning from the Eunomia exercise conducted by France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus in late August in response to Turkey’s unwarranted aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Senators wrote in a letter

The S-400 Triumf SAM system also known by NATO as SA-21 Growler, was developed in the 1990s as an upgrade to the S-300 systems. It utilizes 4 missiles which vary from the very long range 40N6 missile (400km) to the short range 9M96E2 missile (40km). Source CSIS.

Image Credit: Alexander Nemenov/AFP- Getty Images

The S-400 considered one of the best SAM system in the world was purchased by several countries including China, Armenia, Turkey, Belarus and India. Other countries such as Iran and Pakistan expressed interest in purchasing the missile system. The missile system has an ability to learn flight patterns, and other data such as the aircraft flying overhead. The purchase of an S-400 by any NATO ally is perceived to be a security threat by the United States, and has repeatedly put pressure on Turkey to pull out of the deal last year.

During the visit of NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, Turkey released footage of the S-400 SAM system at work. On the same day, Turkey released a notice that Northern airspace will be closed due to S-400 and drone exercises. Turkish expert Matthew Goldman said,

Turkey’s decision to test the S-400 missile system immediately after NATO secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s visit was, of course, very displeasing to its NATO allies.

Matthew Goldman

United States excluded Turkey from purchasing their latest F-35 stealth fighter jets in response to their purchase and use of S-400. When Turkey activated the system to track F-16s, it showed that Turkey were not willing to stop using their S-400s. The lawyers wrote,

Reports of this activation make clear that Turkey has no intention of reversing course and divesting of this system. Reports also suggest that Turkey may plan a general test of the S-400 system near the city of Sinop.

Lawyers Sens. Chris Van Hollen & James Lankford

The lawyers are afraid that through the S-400 systems, Russia can gain an ability to access NATO’s tactical data link 16 to spy on US allies. Last month, when Turkey tested the S-400 radars, Mike Pompeo quickly went to Greece. During that time, the only information available was that Turkey did not activate the full batteries yet. It is known that Turkey tested the S-400 radars on their own F-16s, a move considered as hostile by US and its allies. The lawyers are urging the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Turkey as required by the US Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The law orders the imposition of sanctions on those who do business with the Russian Defense industry. Turkey responded on the possible sanctions, by threatening to close of access to two key American bases located in Incirlik and Kurecik.

So far, even though Turkey will be unable to purchase the F-35 stealth fighter jet, Turkey was still responsible for supplying thousands of pieces for the stealth fighter jet. Not imposing sanctions under CAATSA, allowed Turkey to continue making parts for the F-35 programme, it was expelled from until 2022. US officials said that finding new suppliers for the F-35 parts would cost them hundreds of millions of dollars.

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