U.S. deeply concerned by reports Turkey to test Russian S-400 missiles

The United States is deeply concerned by reports that Turkey is planning to conduct tests of an air defence missile system purchased from Russia, Greek newspaper Kathimerini said.

“We continue to object strenuously to Turkey's purchase of the S-400 air defence system, and are deeply concerned with reports that Turkey is continuing its efforts to bring the S-400 into operation,” a State Department spokesperson said, according to Kathimerini.

The United States has already shown that it takes Turkey’s acquisition of the S-400s seriously by suspending it from the F-35 stealth fighter jet programme, the spokesperson said.

Turkey has begun transporting S-400s to a training ground in the north of the country, the Ihlas news agency reported on Tuesday. The Turkish government has not commented on the deployment of the systems and any plans for testing.

“We continue to stress at the highest levels that the S-400 transaction remains a major obstacle in the bilateral relationship and at NATO, as well as a risk for potential CAATSA sanctions,” the spokesperson said. “We are confident that President [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan and his senior officials understand our position.”

Turkey has issued an advisory known as “NOTAM”, which includes airspace restrictions issued by authorities responsible for airspace, on testing that will be done in Sinop on the Black Sea coast, Turkish journalist Levent Kemal reported on Tuesday.

Turkey acquired the S-400 systems from Russia last year after signing a $2.5 billion contract with Moscow in 2017. It has yet to activate the system after warnings from Washington that such a move could spark further sanctions.

Western allies say the Russian-built hardware could lead to subterfuge against advanced NATO weaponry including the F-35.

Testing for the systems was slated for Oct. 5 -16, including “checking the system’s ability to detect and track the targets, radars functionality, the capabilities of the communication system, as well as to test-fire control and command”, news website Turkish Minute reported on Oct. 2 citing government documents.