Turkey’s S-400 air defense system (ADS) may have tracked U.S.-made F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters in flights over the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea.
Two batteries of the S-400 ADS are located at Mürted Lanud close to the city of Ankara. The distance from the Mürted Lanud to the Black Sea region ranges from 170 – 200 km, which means the trajectories of the two stealth jet fighters are within the S-400 radar range, some news outlets reported Tuesday.
AviaPro news agency said the S-400 radar system had the opportunity to ‘detect’ the presence of U.S. stealth fighter jets at least thrice. Russia’s TASS also reported today that a Turkish defense ministry official “confirmed” Ankara’s testing of its S-400s against U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets last year. “Yes, such trials have indeed taken place last November,” the source allegedly said.
The U.S.-Turkey tensions nosedived after the latter bought the S-400 systems from Russia for $2.5 billion in 2017. Washington’s attempts to persuade Ankara to ditch the systems went in vain. Soon after Russia began shipping the S-400s to Turkey in July 2019, the U.S. struck off Turkey’s name from the list of F-35 program partners.
The U.S. has refused to sell F-35 jets to Turkey precisely for reasons that the Russian made system may collect data about US stealth fighter jet movements. In June, Senate Majority Whip John Thune, representing South Dakota, proposed an amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would allow the America’s purchase of S-400 using the U.S. Army’s missile procurement funds.