Oct. 8 (UPI) — Two U.S. senators have urged that the State Department sanction Turkey for purchase of the S-400 after an unconfirmed report that Turkey used the system to track a U.S. made F-16.
U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and James Lankford, R-Okla., on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to sanction Turkey and demanding answers based on the report.
An unconfirmed report in Greek media prompted the letter, Stars and Stripes reported.
Greek news website ekathimerini.com reported Monday of indications that Turkey had activated the S-400 surface-to air-missile launcher system radars to track U.S. made, Greek F-16 fighter jets as they returned from a Eunomia military exercise in August. And it prompted Pompeo to visit Greece last month.
However, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Turkey is still getting ready to test components of the S-400 missile defense system it purchased from Russia next week and isn’t activating the batteries.
Ankara agreed to purchase the two batteries of the S-400, which is Russia’s long-range anti-aircraft missile system, in a $ 2.5 dillion deal with Moscow in December 2017, but Washington has not yet imposed sanctions against Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.
“Reports of this activation make clear that Turkey has no intention of reversing course and divesting of this system,” Van Hollen and Lankford said in their letter to Pompeo.
“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,” the senators wrote. “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.”
Along with urging Pompeo to impose sanctions, the two U.S. senators added that they wanted answers related to the following three questions about Turkey’s reported use of the S-400 by Oct. 14.
Van Hollen expect to learn whether Turkey activated the S-400 to detect F-16 fighter jets returning from the Eunomia exercise, whether Turkey integrated Link 16 — NATO’s tactical data link — into the S-400 system and, if they did, whether the integration enable Russia to gather information on NATO allies.