Tensions between the US and Turkey has grown as reports in Russia claim that the Turkish army tested the capability of its new Russian-designed S-400 air and missile defense system against U.S. Air Force’s F-35 multirole fighter aircraft, during its air operations over the Middle East.
The Russian newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta claims that the test was performed in spite of a clear warning from Wshington not to do so. A Russian military expert claims that the system was able to detect the US F-35 aircraft from a range of 200 km
In Early 2020 the U.S. Army reported that USAF’s F-35s flew over a combat zone in Syria.
An Israeli very senior expert, who talked with MilMag Defense&Space on condition of anonymity, said that by using radars of the S-400 AMD system, one for detection and the other for fire control and recording the results, "one can learn a lot about angles and other parameter that are relevant to the effort to overcome the stealth qualities of the F-35."
In March USAF and Israeli Air Force conducted a joint training exercise called ‘Enduring Lightning’, which involved the use of F-35 fighter jets.
The exercise included Israel’s ‘Adir’ (F-35I) aircraft from the Israel Air Force’s (IAF’s) 140th squadron (Golden Eagle) and the USAF’s F-35 aircraft from the 34th Fighter Squadron. The scenario of the ‘Enduring Lightning’ exercise called for conducting of a number of simulated air operations against a range of strategic aerial and ground threats. The exercise involved only aerial drills without face-to-face encounters between Israeli and US teams.
Washington has recently cancelled the deal to sell F-35 fighter aircraft to Turkey, but recent actions of the government in Ankara raise more concerns about the fact the Turkey is a major member of NATO. This was the long awaited result of the decision taken by the Turkish government in late 2017 to acquire two Russian-designed S-400 AMD systems, making it the first NATO member state to operate such technology.
However, despite taking deliveries of the first elements of the S-400 AMB system, Turkey is also discussing with Eurosam, a European consortium of defense manufacturers, the development and co-production of a similar system for its future air defense architecture.
But that hardly gives any relief to Western capitals where policymakers are now wondering, among other concerns, how a NATO member could simultaneously operate the S-400 AMD systems and Western-designed weapon systems, like new generation fighter aircraft. US legislators expressed concern in 2018 that if Turkey uses the highly advanced US jets alongside the S-400 systems, Russia may gain access to sensitive and secret technologies implemented in the aircraft.
The Israeli sources said that the strange situation is another proof that NATO has lost its effectiveness and say that new alliances are being formed in the Middle East. "Russia and China are becoming very powerful alternatives for countries in the region that want to have a big well equipped partner country and don’t want any alliance with the US and NATO " one source told MiLMag D&S.