Oct. 23 (UPI) — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the test-firing of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, adding that U.S. objections did not concern him.
The truck-mounted S-400 system was tested in Turkey’s Sinop province on the Black Sea, where it was delivered earlier this month with British-made Banshee drones for use as targets.
“It is true that tests have been carried out,” Erdogan said in televised remarks from Istanbul, Bloomberg News reported. “What are we supposed to do, not test these capabilities? Obviously we’re not going to ask the U.S. [for approval].
The successful test-firing last week by Turkey of the system, which potentially could gather intelligence on U.S.-made F-35 fighter planes, drew significant objection from Washington.
Several members of Congress called for economic sanctions on Turkey, and a State Department statement said the test was “incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO ally and strategic partner of the U.S.”
“It seems that the gentlemen [in Washington] are especially bothered that this is a weapon belonging to Russia,” Erdogan said in the remarks, according to RT. “The U.S. stance absolutely does not concern us. If we are not going to test these capabilities at our disposal, then what are we going to do?”
Turkey received its first S-400s from Russia in 2019, and intends to make them fully operational by 2020.
On Thursday, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said the S-400 will serve as a standalone system, not integrated into NATO’s command-and-control infrastructure.
Akar said that the deployment will be similar to “use of Russian-made S-300 weapons that exist within NATO,” a likely reference to NATO member Greece, which has the S-300 system.
Ergodan reinforced the position in the interview on Friday, noting that “Greece has S-300s in its hand. Let alone testing them, it is using them. Does [the] U.S. say anything to them? No.”