WASHINGTON, October 17. /TASS/. The situation around Russian S-400 missile defense system creates obstacles on the path to progress in US-Turkish bilateral relations, Jonathan Rath Hoffman, Chief Pentagon Spokesman, told TASS on Friday, commenting on the fact that Turkey has tested S-400 for the first time during military exercises.
"The US Department of Defense is aware of reports of a possible test of the S-400 air defense system by Turkey. If accurate, the Department strongly condemns the test. We have been clear: an operational S-400 system is not consistent with Turkey’s commitments as a U.S. and NATO Ally," the spokesman stated.
"We object to Turkey’s purchase of the system, and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is bringing it into operation. It should not be activated. Doing so risks serious consequences for our security relationship. Turkey has already been suspended from the F-35 program and the S-400 continues to be a barrier to progress elsewhere in the bilateral relationship," he said.
Earlier, US Department of State Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told TASS that Ankara would face serious consequences if it places S-400 in its defense system.
A military-diplomatic source informed TASS on Friday that Turkey had tested the S-400 system for the first time during the drills held in the northern part of the country in the area of Sinop. Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport (part of the state hi-tech corporation Rostec) declined to comment on this information. The Turkish Navy’s Office of Oceanography reported on October 14 that Ankara planned to hold firings during drills on October 16-17. The news agency Reuters reported on Friday that missile launches were conducted during the drills.
Russia announced in September 2017 that it had signed a $2.5 billion deal with Turkey on the delivery of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Ankara. Under the contract, Ankara received a regiment set of S-400 air defense missile systems (two battalions). The deal also envisages partial transfer of production technology to the Turkish side.
Turkey is the first NATO member state to purchase such air defense missile systems from Russia. The deliveries of S-400 launchers to Turkey began on July 12, 2019.
Turkey’s decision to acquire the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile systems has caused a sharply negative reaction from the United States and NATO as a whole. The United States is not abandoning its attempts to make Turkey give up the Russian air defense systems.
As Turkey has not yielded to the pressure and has said that it will not give up the S-400 systems, Washington has excluded Ankara from the US program of developing the fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bomber.