Turkish president announces less than a year before Russian-made air defense systems operational; Trump Administration expected to impose sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
Turkey’s recently acquired Russian S-400 air defense systems will be fully operational by April 2020, according to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The system was shipped to Turkey last week after warnings from the United States with possible sanctions as a result. The advanced defense system is a threat to the F-35 stealth jet and a massive shift in military power in the region.
Erdogan boasted on the weapon’s arrival, stating at from Istanbul this week, “With God’s permission, they [S-400s] will have been installed in their sites by April 2020. The S-400s are the strongest defense system against those who want to attack our country. Now the aim is joint-production with Russia [and] we will do that.”
Turkey is set to be the first NATO state with the defense system, capable of tracking targets up to 400 kilometers (248 miles) and downing an F-35 jet. Its missiles can reach as far as 38 miles and down aircraft up to 150 miles away.
The United States halted the delivery of the F-35 given Turkey’s refusal to give up the S-400 deal, which Ankara claims is a “done deal.” Turkey has invested $1.25 billion into the F-35 program with several Turkish companies manufacturing parts for the jets since 1999.
The Trump Administration has not openly addressed reports it would impose sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Ahead of the weekend, the White House canceled a press briefing as President Trump is expected to continue deliberations with security officials and his advisors.