Turkey ‘takes down’ F-35 with the desire to integrate the S-400 system into NATO
DAVOS, (BM) – Russian anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM) S-400 are compatible with American F-35 fighters and do not pose a threat to NATO, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
He also proposed the creation of a working group led by the North Atlantic Alliance to study this issue.
The Russian-Turkish contract for the supply of Ankara S-400 became known in September 2017. Its cost is $ 2.5 billion. According to the document, Russia provides Turkey with a regimental set – two divisions. The contract implies partial transfer of production technologies to the Turkish side. Deliveries of complexes began on July 12 of last year, and ended in the fall.
Advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the end of last year said that one of the reasons for Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400s was the failure of the deal on the Patriot missile defense systems.
According to him, Turkey is focused on ensuring its security, and this is also understood by US President Donald Trump, despite the economic sanctions introduced against the Turkish side.
Later, the Turkish authorities revealed the timing of the start of work in the country of S-400 systems. According to the head of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic, Hulusi Akkar, quoted by Turkiye newspaper, this will happen in April or May 2020. “The training process for the operation of the S-400 continues, <…> the process is going on systematically,” Accar emphasized.
The acquisition of this technology has become a stumbling block in relations between Ankara and Washington. The United States strongly opposed the S-400 in Turkey. The United States is convinced that these systems can pose a threat to NATO. Once again, such a position was voiced on November 22 by a senior official from the State Department, quoted by Reuters.
The US Foreign Office urged Turkey to get rid of the S-400. Otherwise, Ankara could face US sanctions, he warned. According to him, the introduction of restrictive measures for this deal is still possible.
“S-400 shipments are unacceptable; they put sanctions at risk. True, the time (of the imposition of sanctions) under the CAATSA law (“On Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions” – “Gazeta.Ru”) is not set and not accurate. We can still talk a lot about where the sanctions will be, what will be the breadth and depth of the sanctions imposed on Turkey,” he said. The representative of the State Department stressed that Turkey has the freedom to maneuver to return to the negotiating table.
According to him, “so that everything works out,” Ankara must destroy, return, or somehow get rid of the S-400, and she knows that.
He once again stated that the United States did not close Turkey the opportunity to acquire American Patriot air defense systems that meet its air defense needs.
The US demanded that the Turkish side abandon the deal with Russia and, in exchange, acquire the American Patriot complexes. Otherwise, Washington threatened to delay or even cancel the sale of Ankara F-35 fighters and impose sanctions on the basis of the CAATSA law.
As a White House spokeswoman noted in a written statement on July 17, Turkey’s decision to acquire Russian S-400 air defense systems makes it impossible to continue its participation in the program for creating fifth-generation American fighter-bombers.
But Turkey refused to make concessions. Nevertheless, the United States continued to insist that it cancel the contract, even after the start of the supply of equipment to the republic.
“If Turkey does not get rid of the S-400, then, probably, the sanctions in accordance with the CAATSA law will be passed in Congress with the overwhelming support of both parties, and Turkey will feel the consequences of these sanctions. We clearly said this to the president. There is no place in NATO for the S-400, for significant purchases of Russian weapons,” said Robert O’Brien, US National Security Advisor to the US President on CBS on November 10 last year.
At the same time, Ankara is not afraid of the US refusal to sell her the F-35. Last August, the Turkish leader told CNN Turk that instead of United States fighters, his country could buy Su-35 and Su-57 fighters from Russia.
What is the real technical risk for F-35?
NATO states use a tactical data link that allows military aircraft and even ships and ground troops to share their tactical pictures in near-real time. This is called Link 16.
NATO aircraft also use Identification Friend or Foe systems, known as IFF, to identify friendly aircraft in the sky.
An IFF and Link 16 interrogator would have to be integrated into the S-400 system to allow the Turkish F-35, with the transponder, to fly within lethal range of the S-400.
This opens up all Link 16 and IFF tactical data link equipment to be compromised, a former radar and weapons expert said on background.
“With the F-35 flying in close proximity to the S-400 system, over time, you could collect sensitive stealth characteristics of this F-35 and learn its detailed stealth capabilities,” the expert said.
The waveform off the Lightning II’s stealthy surfaces and its transmissions are highly classified in order to protect radar operating parameters, stealth technology and encrypted Link 16 codes.
For instance, “when you know the waveform, you can spoof them,” sending a fake signal to a receiver in order to trick an operator.
The concern is not necessarily that the Turkish military would compromise this sensitive data, but instead that malware on the S-400 or Russian workers operating, setting up or maintaining the system would access the info.
These S-400s are highly networked, with nodes spanning hundreds of miles. There would be multiple, vulnerable nodes that could potentially broadcast sensitive data back to Russia or, perhaps, the highest bidder.
Even operating U.S. Air Force F-35s out of Incirlik Air Base could become difficult if an S-400 was nearby.
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