A pair of bipartisan senators are pushing the Trump administration to sanction Turkey amid reports that it is testing a Russian-made missile defense system using US-made jets.
For years, US lawmakers have raised concerns about the purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system by NATO-ally Turkey and urged the imposition of sanctions required by US law on those who do business with the Russian defense industry.
The latest push comes after Turkey activated radars to detect US-made F-16 fighters in Greece following an international military exercise and plans to conduct a full missile defense system test next week.
“We write of public reports that Turkey activated the radars of its Russian-made S400 anti-aircraft system in order to detect US-made F-1
“In light of this information, we again urge you to impose sanctions on Turkey as required by law,” they added.
The pair also asked Pompeo if Turkey actually activated S-400 radars to detect F-16s and if the country integrated the system into NATO’s tactical data link, asking if this “would allow Russia to gather intelligence. on NATO allies. “
Turkey took delivery of the S-400 system last year, despite warnings from US officials that it was a threat to the US-made F-35 fighter and would carry sanctions.
In response to the purchase of the S-400, the Pentagon excluded Turkey from the F-35 program.
But the Trump administration has never imposed purchase sanctions, despite the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) calling for sanctions on those who do business with the Russian defense sector.
Additionally, despite officially banning Ankara from the F-35 program, the Pentagon has said that Turkey will continue producing parts for the jet until 2022.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Turkey plans next week to test the S-400 and its staff availability at a site in Sinop province on the Black Sea coast. That report followed that of a Greek newspaper about Turkey. which activated S-400 radars to track Greek F-16s after the Eunomia exercise.
The August crash would not be the first time Turkey has used S-400s to track down F-16s. Last year, Turkey tested radars by flying its F-16s over Ankara.
“Reports of this activation make it clear that Turkey has no intention of reversing course and dismantling this system,” wrote Van Hollen and Lankford. “Furthermore, the slow pace at which the Defense Department is moving to remove Turkey from the F-35 supply chain has no doubt encouraged [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan. “