Turkey will remain without F-35, and NATO without Turkey?
This turn did not come as a big surprise to the Turks or to outside observers. Moreover, for now this is only an option, and not a final solution to the issue. However, the signal to the Turkish side was given a specific one, and there is almost no time left for Ankara to finally solve the problem.
The stumbling block, as you know, was Turkey’s desire to purchase the C-400 air defense system from the Russian Federation. The Pentagon and the official structures of NATO have repeatedly expressed their strong opposition to this purchase. They explained this in a rather streamlined way: ostensibly the Russian complex cannot be integrated into the existing NATO air defense system, which in the future will create problems both for the alliance and for Turkey itself.
But is it really? Let's try to figure it out.
Apparently, both US and NATO officials are a little cunning. There are, of course, reasons for such a stubborn Washington, but they have nothing to do with concern for the welfare of Turkey. But with the welfare of Israel are directly related.
The US-Turkish deal is being opposed by Israel, which is justifiably afraid of the excessive, in the opinion of Tel Aviv, gain of Turkey. In fact, it is still the only country capable of challenging Israel’s military challenge. And if stealth fighters appear in the Turks, such a critical area as Israel’s air defense may be threatened, which automatically means stopping the game with only one goal in the event of some conflict between Israelis and their Arab neighbors.
It is clear that at the moment relations between the countries are not so bad as to expect an immediate military conflict between Israel and Turkey in the event of the appearance of the latest F-35. But the fact is that Tel Aviv is trying to look into the future as far as possible, and the strengthening of Muslim neighbors is unacceptable for Israel in principle.
In this regard, it is not by chance that the US Senate, where the Israelis have traditionally had a very strong lobby, adopted a similar version of the draft. Although, taking into account the peculiarities of the religion of D. Trump's next of kin, a powerful Israeli lobby exists at the very top of the executive branch of the United States. Therefore, President Erdogan of Turkey needs to take such signals very seriously.
On the other hand, if Erdogan still “does not bend” under this pressure and continues the course of cooperation with Russia, this will be a clear indication that Turkey is not going to give up sovereign policy for the sake of short-term gain. So, the diplomatic courting of Ankara by Moscow not only made sense, but already brings some fruits.
Another reason for the stubbornness of Americans is the fear of leakage of secrets. And the fear, it must be admitted, is not groundless.
If Turkey turns out to be the owner of both C-400 and F-35, then she will be able to create an accurate radar portrait of the American fighter at various distances and at different radiation angles. This is quite a difficult job that requires absolutely accurate data on the location, altitude, speed and course of the target at the time of exposure and tracking, weather conditions in the test area and a lot of other information. Only in this case, it will be possible to teach automation and operators to distinguish a weak illumination of the target from the noise and give it a target designation.
And the Turks will certainly carry out such work. And they will conduct it honestly, without playing a giveaway with themselves, and their information will become absolutely invaluable for both Russian and Chinese intelligence services. And taking into account how American-Turkish relations are developing, it can also be a direct transfer of data (without any intelligence), directly to the General Staff and to specialized research institutes.
And this is indeed a very serious threat to American interests. That, coupled with the interest of Israel, almost guaranteed to put an end to the supply of F-35 to the Turkish Air Force.
By the way, some risk of technology leakage was assumed as a result of the creation of F-35 service facilities on site, in Turkey. It is clear that the Americans would not have placed critical production technologies on Istanbul. But the coverage, electronic component, avionics and weapons would be of great interest to the intelligence services mentioned above. And those Americans would have to share anyway ...
Breaking the agreement at such a late stage of its implementation, when the parties were already ready to transfer finished machines, is, of course, a very trivial matter. This can be compared, perhaps, only with the refusal of France to supply Russia with the actually built Mistrals. And given the fact that Turkey has recently been a privileged ally of the United States, this may indicate the depth of the crack that had passed between these states after the unsuccessful attempt of a military coup in Turkey. And it can say nothing less about the beginning of the transformation or even the collapse of NATO.
As for the possible alternatives for Ankara, now the idea of delivering Su-57 there does not look at all very hopeless or hasty.
Although the last word has not yet said the Chinese. And they also have arguments ...
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