ANKARA (Dispatches) – A missile has been fired into the sky on Turkey’s Black Sea coast where the military was expected to test its Russian-made S-400 defense systems, according to a video seen by Reuters.
The video, taken in the coastal city of Sinop on Friday, showed a narrow column of smoke headed high into the blue sky.
Turkey was widely expected to test the system this week, after issuing notices warning vessels and aircraft to avoid the area in the Black Sea.
A Haber television, an outlet close to the Turkish government, also reported the test on its website. Other Turkish media carried similar reports.
Turkey’s defense ministry said it would neither deny nor confirm missile tests.
Defense analyst Turan Oguz told Reuters that a preliminary assessment of the color, intensity, angle and route of the smoke in the video coincided with S-400 missiles. The angle of the column suggested the target "must not be too high,” he added.
The United States condemned Turkey after reports emerged that Ankara had tested the air defense system despite opposition from Washington.
Washington said the U.S. State Department had previously told Turkish officials at the highest levels that it was "unacceptable” for a NATO ally to buy the Russian defense system.
"If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile as incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO ally and strategic partner to the United States,” said State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus.
The U.S. had threatened to impose sanctions on Turkey if it activated the S-400 missile system.
However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remained defiant that the S-400 would be deployed.
Erdogan said Turkey had no choice but to buy the S-400 missile system after the U.S. refused to sell Ankara U.S. Patriot missiles, an assertion officials in Washington deny.
Turkey signed the S-400 deal with Russia in 2017. Deliveries of the first four missile batteries, worth $2.5bn, began in July last year.
Following the delivery of the first battery of missiles last year, Turkey was excluded from an F-35 fighter jet training program by the Trump administration due to fears the Russian S-400 missile system would compromise U.S. intelligence.
Ankara described the purchase of the missiles as a matter of national sovereignty.
The U.S. government says it is concerned that the S-400 could be used to gather data on the capabilities of the F-35, and that the information could end up in Russian hands.