Ankara, Moscow seal historic S-400 missile deal
Turkey and Russia have signed an accord on a loan deal for Moscow to supply Ankara with S-400 surface-to-air missiles on Dec. 29 finalizing a deal the two countries have been working on for more than a year.
The signing of the deal was announced by Turkey’s Undersecretariat for Defense Industries (SSM) on the late afternoon of Dec 29.
Turkey will procure two S-400 batteries but the second one will be optional, the SSM said in a written statement. The control and the use of the systems will fully be under the control of the Turkish Armed Forces, the SSM stressed, underlining that it will be used as an independent system – meaning that it won’t be interoperable with NATO’s radar systems.
It also stated that the agreement signed with Russia stipulates “cooperation on technological development and joint production of systems” between the two countries. The SSM denied media reports about some details of the agreement regarding technology transfer, adding that these details will not be made public “just like in all such agreements.”
The cost of Turkey’s S-400 procurement will reportedly be around $2.5 billion.
On Dec. 25 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had said Ankara and Moscow would sign the deal on Dec. 29 and Turkey will borrow the loan in Russian rubles instead of U.S. dollars so the debt will be less.
“Such a step will be taken for the first time. We will not borrow in dollars, we will borrow in rubles. The treasury’s debt will therefore be much lower,” Erdoğan told reporters on Dec. 27, adding that this amount corresponds to 3 percent of the total debt.
Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli also said on Dec. 27 that a deal had been reached with Russia over the purchase of two S-400 defense missile systems and four batteries, confirming a top Russian representative’s comments.
Russia will supply Turkey with four S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries for $2.5 billion under a deal that is almost complete, Sergei Chemezov, the head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, told the Kommersant daily on Dec. 27. Turkey will pay 45 percent of the cost up front with Russia providing loans to cover the remaining 55 percent, Chemezov said.
Moscow expects to begin the first deliveries in March 2020, he added, making Turkey the first NATO member state to acquire the advanced S-400 missile system.
The S-400 deal has caused concern in the West because Turkey is a member of NATO and the system cannot be integrated into NATO’s military architecture.
While pushing ahead with the S-400 project, Ankara has sought to secure defense deals with other countries as well.
In November, Turkey signed a letter of intent with France and Italy to strengthen cooperation on joint defense projects. As a first step, the Franco-Italian EUROSAM consortium and Turkish companies will look into a system based on the SAMP-T missile systems.