Mattis cranky after US envoy fails to persuade Turkey on S-400 purchase
Tuesday, 18 July 2017

US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis sounds rather bitter these days. He can't quite wrap his mind around Turkey insisting it is inches away from spending $2.5 billion on Russian air defense tech. 

“The problem is, is how do you interoperate with NATO systems with Russians — they’ll never interoperate,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday after stopping in the Pentagon press room to speak with reporters before a meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss options in Syria.

“So we’ll have to see, does it go through? Do they actually employ it? Do they only employ it in one area? But we’ll have to take a look at it; Obviously, it’s not going to be interoperable,” Mattis said.

Mattis reiterated the U.S. had no formal say in how Turkey chose, or will proceed with the SAM system.

“This is a sovereign decision,” he said.

This is strange for the US, as they tend to decide what's good for other countries.

Mattis keeps repeating the S-400 is not compatible with NATO air defenses (they can't share radar data, etc) as if that was news to the Turks. His comments come on the heels of an unsuccessful mission by the overall military commander of the US Air Force, David L. Goldfein, who traveled to Turkey last week to try and dissuade Ankara from making the S-400 deal with Russia.

Turkey's Minister of Defense, Fikri Işık, has since said on record that the S-400 deal "has reached its final point" and the negotiations were about "to come to a positive end".

If this is just a Turkish ploy to get a better deal from US or European air defense systems it's a darn elaborate one. But even if it is, it is causing plenty of grey hair at the Pentagon.


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