Turkey will begin testing the radars of its new Russian-made S-400 air defense systems, against Lockheed F-16 jets over a period of two days.
The fighters, along with other jets, will perform high and low altitude test flights on 25th and 26th of November for Turkey to test S-400 radars, Milliyet reported.
The S-400 has been the apple of discord between Ankara and Washington, with the latter having tried persuading the former to pull out of a $2.5 billion deal with Russia for the systems, ever since it was signed in 2017. The first batch of military equipment were delivered to Turkey this July, and were deployed at the Mürted Airbase in Ankara. The air defense systems are set to be activated once training of Turkish personnel is concluded.
On Tuesday, RIA Novosti reported that the head of Russia’s state-run Rosoboronexport said that Moscow was planning to sign a new contract for S-400s with Turkey by mid-2020.
“We hope that in the first half of 2020 we will sign contract documents. However, I want to emphasize that military-technical cooperation with Turkey is not limited to the supply of S-400s. We have big plans ahead,” Alexander Mikheev reportedly said.
Meanwhile, Christopher Van Hollen, US Senator for Maryland, has said that Turkey “crossed another red line” by commencing the tests.
"Two weeks after his White House visit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is thumbing his nose at Trump, the US + NATO, and crossing another red line on S-400s," Hollen said in a Twitter post.
"Existing law requires Trump to impose sanctions. Pompeo must also confront Turkey about its latest ‘safe zone’ violations and attacks against the Kurds," he added.
When Turkey began Operation Peace Spring in Syria on October 9, US Senators Van Hollen and Lindsey Graham outlined arms embargo and sanctions against Turkey for attacking Kurdish forces and S-400 buy.
In the Graham-Van Hollen Turkey Sanctions Bill, they asked to remove CAATSA waiver, define Tukey’s S-400 purchase as a “significant transaction under Section 231 of CAATSA” and implement the sanctions within 180 days from designating as significant.
The bill includes sanctions “against any foreign person who sells or provides financial, material, or technological support or knowingly does a transaction with the Turkish military” including “aircraft or aircraft parts, machinery, used by the Turkish Air Force, automotive equipment and services utilized by the Turkish Land and Naval Forces, and weapons or defense articles utilized by the Turkish Military.”
It also prohibits the sale of US defense hardware, services, technology, materials to the Turkish Armed Forces.