Turkey today refused to back down on using its S-400 air defense systems (ADS) even as the United States announced sanctions again the country’s defense agency, and the denial of permission to export defense goods made with U.S. inputs.
An immediate impact of the sanctions could be on Pakistan-Turkey defense relations. Ankara inked a deal with Pakistan in 2018 to sell 30 T129 ATAK helicopters that come with the CTS800-4A engine made by a partnership between Honeywell (U.S.) and Rolls Royce (U.K.). Following delay in delivering them, Ismail Demir, Undersecretary for Defence Industry of Turkey had stated on January 6, 2020, “Pakistan has agreed to give us another year (to deliver the helicopters). We hope we will be able to develop our indigenous engine soon to power the T129. After one year, Pakistan may be satisfied with the level of progress in our engine program, or the U.S. may grant us the export license.”
Military expert Arda Mevlütoğlu told BBC Turkish, “Even if alternatives (to the engine) are found, it will take time and investment.”
In addition, the MILGEM frigates being built for Pakistan by Turkey are to be equipped with GE Marine engines made in the U.S. The Ukraine-Turkey’s deal signed on December 15 for the supply of corvettes and unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) may be hit. While Ukraine did not reveal the type of equipment it has sought, reports said it involves MILGEM Ada-class corvettes and Bayraktar TB2 drones.
"A corvette agreement has been signed with Ukraine. However, some of the subsystems and systems need to be imported from the U.S.,” Mevlütoğlu added.
Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Turkey will not abandon the Russian-made S-400 ADS in the face of U.S. sanctions and will take reciprocal steps after holding evaluations. Çavuşoğlu told a live broadcast that the U.S. sanctions decision was legally and politically wrong and were an attack on Turkey’s and other countries’ sovereign rights.
Announced under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), the sanctions target Turkey's Defense Industries Presidency (SSB), including Ismail Demir, the head of the SSB, and three other officials. They prohibit the SSB from importing or exporting to US entities. Since the SSB is the main coordinating agency for all defense projects including that of international sales, sanctions against it may impede Turkey’s ability to manufacture and export defense goods.
Reuters reported that the sanctions could affect contracts worth $1.5-2.3 billion or around 5% of U.S.-Turkish trade.