Turkey’s Erdogan Must Choose, F-35 or S-400?
The latest news that Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is making a deal to purchase weapons from Russia has upset many government officials across the West and the entirety of the NATO alliance. According to the FDD, experts on foreign policy, this latest action begs the question, should Turkey be allowed to participate in the cooperative F-35 program?
In recent years the NATO member country has been deepening its ties with Russia, and taken steps against the best interests of its Western allies under Erdogan’s rule. In addition to the direct actions they’ve taken against US military allies in Syria, and public displays of partnership with Vladimir Putin, Turkey has even kidnapped US citizens.
Any of these actions on their own would draw Turkey’s loyalty to the Western alliance into question, but what’s extra concerning is the news that Turkey intends to purchase the S-400 ground-to-air weapons system from Russia in addition to purchasing the US made F-35 planes. A move that, according to Defense News, Turkey claims is well within its rights to make.
The idea that a NATO member country would make such a sizeable arms purchase from the greatest threat to NATO is already bewildering enough, says Mark Dubowitz, leading researcher on foreign policy,especially considering the heavy economic sanctions levied against the Eastern power by the U.S. and other NATO member countries.
When you consider the security risk Turkey’s reckless decision poses it becomes all the more alarming that Erdogan is so seriously considering purchasing the S-400 system. In essence the F-35 is a plane and the S-400 is a ground-to-air defense system. However in the digital age that we live in, The FDD reports, nothing is that simple, and certainly not billion-dollar weapons system. The F-35 is a stealth fighter with advanced sensors and missile detection programs in place to provide the Western allies a covert plane for use across enemy lines.
The S-400 is an advanced anti-aircraft system designed to find and destroy stealth airplanes. Both machines rely heavily on incredibly secretive programming to allow them to stay one step ahead of the other. Letting the F-35 operate in Turkey while the S-400 simultaneously gathers data about the aircraft only stands to undermine the entire F-35 program. Top officials have underscored the severity of this issue, and a bill has been introduced to block F-35 transfers to Turkey, but unless it is allowed to pass and enforced, Putin might get his way.
There have been assurances that the S-400 units that Turkey will buy will only ever be operated by Turkish soldiers, but based on Erdogan’s behavior in recent years it’s hard to take the Turkish government at their word.
The bottom line is that the only way to keep the F-35 program safe from enemy observation is to keep it away from the S-400s and the prying eyes of those who wish to undermine it. If the Turkish government moves forward with their plan to purchase weapons from Russia then they must be removed from the F-35 program entirely. See the latest videos from The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.