A Dilemma

Since the end of World War II, Turkey has been a strong ally of the West. They field the second largest army in NATO. They were a good ally in the Korean War, and critical for us during the Cold War. The Air Force has had an important base there since the beginning of the Cold War, in addition to listening posts along the (then) Soviet border.

With the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2014, there have been some fissures in this critical alliance. Turkish officials accused the U.S. in being complicit in a failed coup in 2016.

There have been disagreements over the US handling of Syria, and the policy over Iran.

For our part – we are facing a critical dilemma, all from the Turkish government’s ordering a Russian S-400 anti Aircraft system over a US or NATO anti aircraft system.

The U.S. and Turkey failed to break a deadlock in talks over Ankara’s plans this summer to deploy a Russian air-defense system the Pentagon says could jeopardize U.S. fighter aircraft in the region, officials said.

The U.S. has said it would impose sanctions on Turkey if the deal proceeds. Turkish officials on Tuesday repeated the deal has been signed and is final.

“Sanctions…will be counterproductive and backfire. [They] will not lead to any constructive outcome,” Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said. “Everybody has to understand Turkey’s legitimate security concerns.”

Turkey has also ordered the F-35 Stealth fighter. With a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system.

With Russian technicians to train and service it.

It doesn’t take too much imagination to see someone allowing the Russians access to an F-35 to study its defenses.

The dilemma?

Allow the status quo and have a major security breach with our newest fighter.

Or deepen the fissure, antagonize the Turks and cancel the order of the Lightning IIs.

Apparently the fissure  worsened as of April 1st, with the cancellation of a planned equipment delivery to service the F-35. Without the equipment to service it, one would assume there will be no delivery of the plane.

The Pentagon confirmed the Reuters report that the equipment delivery had been stopped. 

“Pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400, deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability have been suspended,” Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Defense Department spokesman, said in a statement. 

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has refused to back down from Ankara’s planned purchase of a Russian S-400.

I don’t see what else we can do.

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