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Senate Proposal: US to buy Turkey’s Russian-made S-400

The United States of America is coming up with a proposal by the Senate to dissuade Turkey, a NATO member  from possessing the Russian made S-400 air defense system, Defense News reported.

The United States is not abandoning its vigorous attempts to make Turkey give up the Russian air defense systems. Turkey’s decision to acquire the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile systems has caused more negative reactions from the U.S. and other NATO members. 

According to a report, the U.S. would buy Turkey’s Russian-made S-400 air defense system under legislation proposed in the Senate last week in a bid to overcome the impasse between Washington and Ankara over Turkey’s participation in a program to produce F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter jets.

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 authorisation 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.

In September 2017 Russia and Turkey had signed a $2.5 billion deal 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.

Currently, Turkey remained the first and only 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.

Russia's S-400 ‘Triumf’ is the most advanced long-range air defense missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. 

S-400 is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range weapons, and can also be used against ground installations. 

The Russian made air defense missile systems can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.

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