Turkey is one of America’s eight “partner nations” in the F-35 “Joint Strike Fighter” project, meaning it has contributed money for its development by the US defense industry. That has not stopped the US from hinting a review is needed to decide if the 116 F-35s Turkey has ordered, will actually be delivered to it, and in what configuration.
Supposedly by Turkey operating the Russian-built S-400 anti-aircraft system and the F-35 together, this would somehow lead to Russia learning F-35’s secrets. Hurriyet Daily News:
If Turkey moves forward with its buy of a Russian air defense system, it will not be permitted to plug into NATO technology and further action may be forthcoming that could affect the country’s acquisition or operation of the F-35, a top U.S. Air Force official was quoted as saying on Nov. 15 by the Defense News.
Heidi Grant, deputy undersecretary of the U.S. Air Force for international affairs, reportedly made the comments on the floor of Dubai Air Show, where she met with companies and partner countries.
Grant has also commented on the planned delivery of Turkey’s first F-35s in 2018, saying that the S-400 acquisition also creates issue for the country’s use of the F-35.
The U.S. is worried that Turkey operating both the S-400 and F-35 together will lead Russia to find out about the vulnerabilities of the F-35.
“It’s a significant concern, not only to the United States, because we need to protect this high end technology, fifth-generation technology” but for “all of our partners and allies that have already purchased the F-35,” Grant said.
For their part the Turks aren’t buying the story that operating in alongside the S-400 somehow exposes F-35’s technologies to the Russians. They are interpreting the words of the US official as pressure against Turkey to drop the S-400 deal in favor of a western manufacturer.
The response of the enthusiastically pro-Erdogan daily Yeni Safak has been to suggest that if the US breaks the F-35 contract, the Americans be forced to remove their powerful, long-range TPY-2 radar from eastern Turkey that was installed in 2012 to allow the US to monitor the skies over western Iran:
As the U.S. and NATO pressure mounts on Turkey to stop the purchase of the powerful S-400 missile system from Russia, the American administration has threatened that it may not go forward with a plan to deliver F-35 fighter jets ordered by Turkey.
In retaliation to the American blackmail, Ankara may take measures of its own in response, atop of which is the possible dismantling of the powerful Malatya- Kürecik AN-TPY-2 radar that was set up by the U.S. in 2012.
Ankara has taken the heat for Kürecik radar
In the event that the U.S. violates its agreement with Turkey regarding the F-35 fighter jets deal, this will lead to Israel being widely exposed to ballistic missile threats, as the Kürecik radar, which has been set up with the purpose of detecting any missile fired at Israel, is capable of spotting all types of flying objects or projectiles at high altitudes and at a maximum distance of 1,000 kilometers, which chiefly covers Iran, among other countries in the region.
As part of its agreements with NATO, Turkey has given permission for the deployment of the radar to its territory, much to the dismay of Russia and Iran, who expressed their sharp opposition to such a move.
Faced with growing pressure from Tehran and Moscow for the sake of the security of the NATO alliance, Turkey will not bow to the U.S.’s blackmail attempts by using the S-400 deal as a pretext to renege on the F-35 jets agreement.
With the US-Turkish war of words over S-400 intensifying to this degree it has become clear the deal has already served a useful purpose for Russia in driving a wedge between Turkey and the US.
Though there would have been no such wedge if the US simply learned to live with the Turkey’s Russia purchase, and just let it be. As it is, America’s typical inability to accept even a tiny setback is leading it to dig a much deeper hole for itself.