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Middle East , Aircraft and Anti-Aircraft

Turkey's Reprimand for Stepping Out of Line with NATO

October 30th - 2017

Since Turkey's commitment to purchase the S-400 air defense system from Russia, the country has been severely reprimanded the United States and other NATO members for acquiring weapons systems from a non Western and rival power. This has only further highlighted the growing rift between Ankara and Washington, which first appeared at the time of the coup attempt in July 2016. Indeed, Turkey's President Erdogan has emphasised the value of the system in that it allowed the Turkish military to shoot down U.S. stealth fighters such as the F-22 Raptor and B-2 Spirit - despite the fact that the two powers were supposedly NATO allies.

While the S-400 demonstrates capabilities well beyond those of its U.S. produced equivalents such as the Patriot system, Turkey's move to acquire the system has been harshly criticized by other NATO members. Most recently Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Petr Pavel threatened "consequences" for Turkey should it go through with its decision. He stated: "The principal of sovereignty obviously exists in acquisition of defense equipment, but the same way that nations are sovereign in making their decision, they are also sovereign in facing the consequences of that decision."

Turkey may well be brought back into line by a number of means, and it is essentially for the United States to do so as an example - lest they see other client states or allies turning to Russian, Chinese or other non allied sources for arms. A potential example could be South Korea or Saudi Arabia acquiring the Russian Su-57 - as neither of which can purchase the U.S. equivalent F-22 and both find themselves in need of a next generation air superiority platform. Turkey itself has even indicated a potential interest in the S-500 air defense system - and should it not be made to suffer repercussions the first time it goes against the wishes of the wider Western bloc in such a way it may well feel at liberty to to do so again in future. With control of arms sales to allies being critical to both U.S. strategy and to its economy, Turkey is highly likely going to be made to pay for its decision to purchase the S-400 missile system. How this will affect US-Turkey relations, and whether Ankara can be brought 'back into line' remains to be seen.


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