Turkish state-run media outlet Anadolu tweeted an image on Wednesday showcasing a Russian-made missile defense system recently acquired by Turkey as capable of shooting down a wide variety of American aircraft.
The Turkish government made headlines earlier this month after finalizing the weapons deal with Russia. The S-400 missile defense system fires surface-to-air missiles that can intercept aircraft and other missiles, and is reportedly Russia’s most advanced air defense system. NATO allies had voiced complaints that Turkey cutting weapons deals with the Russians is a bad move for the military alliance.
Turkish president Erdogan made the announcement official in July of this year, saying the governments of Turkey and Russia had been in discussion about the weapon acquisition since 2016. Turkey has wanted an effective air missile defense system for decades, historically relying on U.S. and other NATO allies to provide such protection.
— ANADOLU AGENCY (ENG) (@anadoluagency) September 21, 2017
When news of Turkey’s intent to co-produce the system with the Russians to give them a domestic missile defense system earlier this summer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford had dismissed initial reports of such a deal
“There was a media report that was incorrect,” he said “They have not bought the S-400 air defense system from Russia. That would be a concern, were they to do that, but they have not done that.”
But as it appears that they have now done that, the decision is sure to strain already worsening relations between Turkey and the rest of the NATO alliance. The U.S. and others have technical grounds on which to criticize the weapon system, as it is not interoperable with other NATO systems, which remains an important consideration for member nations in providing a mutually supportive defense.
The alliance also has political concerns, as Erdogan continues to levy accusations against Germany and the U.S. for a variety of grievances, most stemming from his government’s reaction to the failed coup plot which occurred last summer and his increasingly hostile attitude towards U.S. support for Kurdish rebels in Syria.
Image courtesy of Соколрус via Wikipedia