US could buy Turkey’s Russian-made S-400 under Senate proposal

U.S. President Donald Trump has held off imposing sanctions against Turkey for its purchase, but the sale remains a sticking point in the relationship

Military vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense system, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, on July 12, 2019 Ministry of National Defense of Turkey

The U.S. would be able to buy Turkey’s Russian-made S-400 air defense system under legislation proposed in the Senate last week. The proposal is one powerful lawmaker’s attempt to alleviate the impasse between Washington and Ankara over the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., has proposed an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the purchase to be made using the U.S. Army’s missile procurement account. The move comes a year after the U.S. expelled NATO ally Turkey from the multinational F-35 program because it received the S-400 in a $2.5 billion deal.

However, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch, R-Idaho, has introduced an amendment that would take a tougher stance, mandating the Trump administration implement CAATSA sanctions on Turkey within 30 days of passage of the NDAA. Risch has been critical of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and accused him of bad faith in dealings with the U.S. over the S-400.

Under CAATSA, or the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, passed in 2017, any nation procuring a major defense article from Russia should face major sanctions.

U.S. President Donald Trump has held off imposing sanctions against Turkey for its purchase, but the sale remains a sticking point in the relationship. Erdogan has refused to give up the system, despite warnings from Washington that the S-400 could compromise the stealthy F-35.

The U.S. routinely buys foreign technology and could both exploit the S-400′s technology and test U.S. tactics, said Jim Townsend, a former Pentagon official for European and NATO policy. If Turkey doesn’t go for the idea, he said, the two countries are still stuck.

“I think the US buying the S-400s from Turkey is a clever way of getting Erdogan out of the jam he put himself in,” Townsend said. “We just want to get the system out of Turkey … and if it enables the Turks to take part in the F-35 then all the better.”

Thune and Risch are both influential senators, but there’s no guarantee either of their amendments would receive consideration to be included in the massive NDAA ― or, if passed into the Senate bill, that they would survive negotiations with the House.

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s draft of the authorization bill already contains language pertaining to Turkey and the F-35 program. Specifically, it gives the U.S. Air Force the authority to accept, operate or even modify the six F-35A conventional-takeoff-and-landing models that were built by Lockheed Martin for Turkey but never officially delivered.

(c) 112

5 comments

  • An interesting proposal, if it came off, Russia would not be very happy. Could the US trust Turkey not to sell F35s to Russia? I think the US should err on the side of caution here, nobody has ever seen if this junk even works, and judging the standard of Russian weapons, and the neverending complaints about them, I think the US should tell Turkey keep your S400s, but don’t come crying to us when they fail.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I say buy them. Then 2 months later send out someone from the Pentagon laughing his ass off and complaining what a waste of money the S-400s are and detail the technology. This would end the sale of them and set back the Moskali to wait on their next Lada model S-500….

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yeah, but if it is junk, it’s a lot of money wasted. I very much doubt Russia sold Turkey the real thing anyway. Probably some dressed up Pantsir system, and we know how good they are.

        Liked by 4 people

  • onlyfactsplease

    “I think the US buying the S-400s from Turkey is a clever way of getting Erdogan out of the jam he put himself in,” Townsend said. “We just want to get the system out of Turkey … and if it enables the Turks to take part in the F-35 then all the better.”
    Buying the system would obviously make it practically useless for anyone wanting to use it against us. This is good. Letting the Turks have even one F-35 is not so good.

    Liked by 4 people

  • I can almost hear the Trolls wailing and gnashing their teeth.
    Specially since the Trolls used to bragg about how Russia was going to buy the French made Mistrals from Egypt.
    Music, sweet music.

    Liked by 2 people

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