US warns Turkey, India, Egypt and Indonesia about buying Russian weapons

WASHINGTON — A senior State Department official has lashed out at Turkey, Indonesia, India and Egypt for military deals they have struck with Russia, warning of sanctions against the U.S. allies if they don’t reverse course.

The official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said on November 21 that Ankara had to “get rid of” the Russian-supplied S-400 missile defense system — which it has purchased and started to take delivery on — if it wants to improve ties with Washington.

Turkey

Turkey, a NATO member, received a first batch of the missile defense systems in July, prompting the United States to kick Turkey off its F-35 fighter jet program.

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Turkish Pilot is undergoing training at USAF base. Turkey is evicted from the F-35 Program. The pilots and ground crews of Turkish Air Force have been sent home to Turkey.

U.S. and NATO military officials have long opposed Turkey’s purchase of the S-400 from Russia, saying it was not compatible with alliance military systems and would endanger new F-35 jets used by the West.

The United States says Russia will be able to acquire sensitive technical details about the new U.S. warplane if it is operated alongside the S-400.

Washington has pressed Turkey to drop its purchase of the Russian system and to instead purchase the U.S.-made Patriot system, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to back down, even at the risk of sanctions.

In an 18-4 vote, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the bill despite objections from the Trump administration and Ankara. It will now be up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been critical of the legislation, to bring it to a full vote on the Senate floor.

“They [the Turks] know that they have the choice to move forward, and the choice is to rid themselves of the S-400 so that we can move forward,” he said.

Egypt

The official also said that the United States was working with Egypt to deter it from proceeding with a $2 billion deal to buy more than 20 Su-35 Russian fighter jets.

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Lockheed Marin F-16 of Egyptian Air Force

The official said that “we’ve also been transparent with them in that if they are to acquire a significant Russian platform…that puts them at risk towards sanctions.”

“They know this and we’re working through it with them,” the official said. “This is something we’ve not completely reconciled yet but they’re acutely aware of what they’re putting at risk.”

Washington has told Cairo that using the Su-35 and other Russian weapons systems could pose a threat to a country’s ability to operate jointly with U.S. and NATO militaries in the event of a crisis.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authorized the release of $1.2 billion in U.S. military assistance to Egypt, despite human rights concerns that have held up previous funding. The Egyptian risks losing $1.2 billion dollars aid if they induct Russian-made Su-35 into Egyptian Air Force inventory. Egypt long has been a key U.S. ally in the Middle East, receiving nearly $80 billion in military and economic assistance over the past 30 years.

Indonesia

Indonesian MoD officials have previously confirmed to Jane’s that the Su-35 transaction consists of several elements consistent with Indonesia’s Defence Industry Law – also called Law 16 – through which the government seeks to secure offset-like benefits linked to defence procurement. The total value of the Su-35 contract, which features the supply of 11 aircraft, is USD1.14 billions being financed through countertrade, with Indonesia expected to export to Russia a long list of commodities including palm oil, rubber, machinery, coffee, cocoa, textiles, tea, footwear, processed fish, furniture, copra, paper, and spices.

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Lockheed Martin F-16 of Indonesian Air Force

The Indonesian Air Force received two dozen used F-16 fighter jets from the United States, a delivery heralded as the largest transfer of excess defence articles in the history of the relationship. But a narrative is emerging concerning the extent to which arms sales are part of a regional power play between the United States, China and Russia to swing Indonesia’s foreign policy alignment.

Military education and training assistance have been touted as key to solidifying US–Indonesia ties as China’s hegemonic behaviour intensifies. Officials are now seeking to restore education and training of the controversial Indonesian Army Special Forces.

A recent Council on Foreign Relations report suggested the United States should increase funding for the International Military and Education Training (IMET) programs for Indonesian soldiers to ‘solidify pro-US sentiment’ and promote professionalism within the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI). The Indonesian National Armed Forces received almost $1.2 billion dollars aid from the U.S.

India

India’s military-political relations and arms trade with the US have been on a rapid rise in recent years. The US, as part of its foreign policy to counter China’s growing influence in Asia, has notched up arms sales to India worth US$15 billion over the past decade, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin and Boeing established joint venture with Indian defense companies and received major technology from the U.S.

India announced its intention to acquire Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile systems in 2015. The delivery contract worth USD 5.43 billion was signed during the visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to India last year.

India’s S-400 deal could blow up India’s chances to get high-tech military equipment from America.

As well as China, India is taking part in joint military exercises with Russia and the US. Photo: AFP
India is taking part in joint military exercises with the US.

FMS sales notified to Congress are listed here, and recent and significant prior sales include: MH-60R Seahawk helicopters ($2.6 billion), Apache helicopters ($2.3 billion), P-8I maritime patrol aircraft ($3 billion), and M777 howitzers ($737 million). 

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their meeting in New Delhi.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during their meeting in New Delhi.

India was the first non-treaty partner to be offered a MTCR Category-1 Unmanned Aerial System – the Sea Guardian UAS manufactured by General Atomics. PM continues to support advocacy for the Lockheed Martin F-21 and Boeing F/A-18 – two state of the art fighter aircraft that India is currently evaluating. These platforms provide critical opportunities to enhance India’s military capabilities and protect shared security interests in the Indo-Pacific region.

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Tata, Boeing open Apache helicopter unit in Hyderabad, India.

Since 2008, the U.S. has also sold to India over $6.6 billion in defense articles via the DCS process, which licenses the export of the defense equipment, services, and related manufacturing technologies controlled under the 21 categories of the U.S. Munitions List (USML). 

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Lockheed Martin – TASL submitted proposal to manufacture F-21 in Hyderabad, India.

The top categories of DCS to India include aircraft, electronics, and gas turbine engines.

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Boeing AH-64 Apache manufactured in India

CAATSA Sanctions

While not a NATO member, Egypt, India and Indonesia have over the years received billions of dollars in economic and military aid and technologies from the United States,– is considered a long-time ally in the unstable Asia pacific region and its military operates the U.S. supplied weapons.

The official added that the imposition of U.S. sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was still a possibility if India, Egypt and Indonesia don’t reverse course.

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