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Turkey Begins Testing Russian Missile Radars at Heart of Row With U.S.

S-400 Wikicommons

Turkey will test a component of its newly acquired Russian air defense system, a step that risks escalating a dispute with the U.S. and touching off possible sanctions. The lira reversed gains.

Military aircraft will be used in the capital Ankara on Monday and Tuesday during the testing of the S-400 system’s radar-detection equipment, a Turkish defense official said, asking not to be identified in line with his department’s restrictions.

The decision comes after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he told President Donald Trump during a meeting this month that Turkey wouldn’t give up on deployment of the systems, risking penalties championed in Congress.

“So the Turks took them out of the box then. U.S. sanctions?” said Timothy Ash, a strategist at BlueBay Asset Management in London.

The two NATO allies have been sparring over the potential risks posed by the purchase to Pentagon’s costliest weapons program, the F-35 fighter jet built by Lockheed Martin Corp.

The Turkish official who talked about the radar tests was elaborating on the Ankara governor’s statement on Sunday that said low- and high-altitude flights by Turkish F-16 warplanes around the capital should be expected on Nov. 25-26.

The lira reversed earlier gains after the report, was trading 0.4% lower at 5.7365 per dollar at 11:41 a.m. in Istanbul.

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