Is this for being concerned about Turkey's self-defense capabilities or is it more about that Russia competes with the U.S on arm deals?

What reasons does the US havefor being concerned about Turkey's S-400 deal?

  • 1
    It is that Russia competes with the U.S on arm deals.
    – klojj
    Nov 14 '19 at 0:48
  • @o.m. that question seems to focus on one concern specifically, this question asks what the concerns are.
    – JJJ
    Nov 14 '19 at 7:35

Russia and NATO aren't on good terms

The BBC has an article on Turkey's purchase and it contains a section on US concerns. This follows from the fact that NATO and Russia aren't on friendly terms.

From the BBC article:

So why is Washington so concerned about Turkey buying the S-400?

For a start it is almost unprecedented for a Nato country to buy such a sophisticated piece of Russian military hardware. Greece operates the Russian S-300 but these it obtained indirectly. They were purchased by Cyprus and transferred to Greece after Turkish objections.

The S-400 system is highly sophisticated; this is an area in which Russian technology is impressive. But there are practical problems too.

No friendly-fire protections

According to an article by Reuters citing US officials, the purchase of Russian jets may be because those don't have protections against firing on NATO jets. The US officials speculated to this being a factor in Turkey's decision making in relation to the coup attempt in 2016. Quoting from the Reuters article (more quotes from officials in the article):

While they recognize that worsening U.S. relations with Turkey in recent years and Russia’s growing clout with Ankara may also have helped sway Turkey toward buying the S-400 system, three U.S. officials and a defense source told Reuters of another working theory that has gained ground within the Trump administration.

One reason Erdogan may have chosen to buy from Russia rather than from a fellow NATO member is that he might be wary of his own air force, which played a major role in the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, these officials say.

S-400 missiles, which Turkey began taking delivery of last Friday, would be better at fending off any attack on the Turkish government from its own jets than a U.S.-supplied Patriot system would, experts say.

Raytheon Co’s’s Patriot missiles, which have been on offer to Turkey, would have safeguards to help avoid “friendly fire” against other NATO warplanes, such as Turkish air force jets.

“You have to ask yourself: Why would Erdogan really want a Russian system?” one of the U.S. officials asked. “He doesn’t trust his air force.”

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    Also, the US has proven to be a much more fickle trading partner in the past than Russia has in terms of selling systems and parts.
    – user16741
    Nov 14 '19 at 0:30
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    "On 15 May 2006, the U.S. government announced that it would enact a ban on arms sales to Venezuela to become effective at the beginning of October of that year. This embargo was expected to soon render Venezuela’s F-16 fleet non-operational, and General Alberto Muller, a military advisor to President Chávez, responded to the embargo announcement with a threat to sell Venezuela’s remaining 21 F-16s to Iran" - just one example of many where US sold equipment depends on continued US support. The Iranian F-14s also come to mind.
    – user16741
    Nov 14 '19 at 0:50
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    Both used to be US allies tho, and thats the point - they bought hugely expensive systems when allies, and when that relationship waned the parts supply dried up also. In recent years, the US-Turkish relationship has been going a similar direction - there has been significant US opposition to Turkish leadership and goals that date back further than the S-400 purchase, and indeed the S-400 purchase can be partially seen as an outcome of that situation rather than a cause of it. If Turkey bought the Patriot, that two things that the US can stop supporting...
    – user16741
    Nov 14 '19 at 1:02
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    @Moo it is true that there have been divisions for some time. The difference with those other countries, however, is that Turkey is a NATO member. The US doesn't want to break that relation (yet) and neither do the Turks (yet). So this situation is a bit peculiar where Turkey and the US are very close by being in NATO, but far apart by issues like this. I can't predict how it goes from here, I think it can go either way or even stay like it is now for years to come.
    – JJJ
    Nov 14 '19 at 1:07
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    Turkeys NATO membership is one of those oddities, as is its repeated attempts to join the EU - its essentially at odds with both of those entities in some way or other, and its NATO membership is more of a historical holdover than something that has happened recently (while the tensions are fairly recent). Given that the US has already withdrawn the F-35s maintenance contracts from Turkey, I'd say that the F-35 buy is also in doubt as a result. Turkey produces its own F-16s, so it can support them internally - without the F-35 maintenance contract now, it cant do that for the F-35 fleet.
    – user16741
    Nov 14 '19 at 1:17

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