Lankford, Van Hollen Make Bipartisan Push for Answers on Turkey’s Reported Use of the S-400 Anti-Aircraft System to Detect F-16s
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Today, Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pressing for details on Turkey’s reported use of the Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft system. Turkey’s use of the S-400 could undermine US national security, allowing Russia a backdoor to spy on NATO allies. In their letter, the Senators once again urge Secretary Pompeo to sanction Turkey for the initial purchase of the S-400, as required under the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). In addition, the Senators ask for specific information on Turkey’s use of the S-400, including whether Turkey has integrated the Link 16, NATO’s tactical data link, into the S-400 system, which would further endanger the security of NATO operations.
Lankford was successful to secure in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act limitations on the transfer of the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter to Turkey, which he introduced early in 2019 because the nation had also purchased Russia’s S-400 air defense system—compromising state-of-the-art American military technology. In July 2020, Lankford and Van Hollen, along with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper on information regarding the department’s timeline to remove Turkey from the F-35 technology supply chain.
The full text of the letter can be found here and below:
Dear Secretary Pompeo,
We write concerning public reports that Turkey has activated the radars of its Russian-made S-400 anti-aircraft system, in order to detect U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets returning from the Eunomia exercise conducted by France, Italy, Greece and Cyprus in late August in response to Turkey’s unwarranted aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean. Reports also suggest that Turkey may plan a general test of the S-400 system near the city of Sinop. Last year, Turkish F-16 jets flew over Ankara as a part of a test of the S-400 system, which administration officials indicated could allow Russia a backdoor to spy on NATO allies.
To-date, the administration has not imposed sanctions on Turkey for its purchase of the S-400 under Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (P.L. 115-44). Reports of this activation make clear that Turkey has no intention of reversing course and divesting of this system. Additionally, the slow pace at which the Department of Defense is moving to remove Turkey from the F-35 supply chain has no doubt emboldened President Erdogan. Turkey’s recent reported activation of the S-400 system to detect the U.S. F-16 underscores our grave concerns about Russia’s ability to access sensitive data.
Given this information, we again urge you to impose sanctions on Turkey as required by law. In addition, we request the following information by October 14:
- Did Turkey activate the S-400 to detect F-16 fighter jets returning from the Eunomia exercise?
- Has Turkey integrated the Link 16, NATO’s tactical data link, into the S-400 system? If so, could this integration enable Russia to gather information on NATO allies?