First Russian S-400 missile system planned to be delivered to Turkey in 2019: Defense minister
The first Russian S-400 missile system is planned to be delivered to Turkey in 2019, Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Nov. 22.
Speaking to the parliament’s Planning and Budget Committee, Canikli said the agreement for the procurement of the missile system was signed and two S-400 systems, with one being optional, would be procured as part of the agreement.
“The first delivery of the S-400 air-defense systems is planned to be accomplished in 2019,” the defense minister said.
“Once these systems are received, our country will have secured an important air defense capability. This solution aimed at meeting an urgent need will not hinder our commitment to developing our own systems,” he said.
Turkey has been in negotiations with Russia to buy the S-400 for more than a year, a decision seen by Washington and some of its other allies in NATO as a snub to the Western military alliance.
Turkey has also had talks with the Franco-Italian EUROSAM consortium on developing its own missile defense systems, after signing a memorandum to strengthen cooperation on defense projects between the three countries, Canikli said.
“With the memorandum in question, Turkish, French and Italian firms have started cooperation to identify, develop, produce and use a more advanced version of the SAMP-T [missile system] in a common consortium,” he said.
Turkey aims to bring talks with EUROSAM to a “definitive end” soon, Canikli said, adding that Ankara aims to finalize the deal by the end of 2017 at the latest.
US arms provided to YPG ‘could furnish an army of 30,000 troops’
Canikli also said the weapons provided to the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) by the United States could furnish an army of 30,000 troops.
“These weapons will turn on us one way or another. Any location, any point the YPG terrorists are placed at poses a threat to Turkey,” he said.
Although Turkey conveyed its unease at Washington for arming the YPG fighters, Canikli said they have observed an increase in arms support, both in terms of quality and quantity, to the Syrian Kurdish group which Ankara assumes to be an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The U.S. suggested that the majority of those transferred to Syria were for use by U.S. personnel, Canikli said, expressing his suspicion for this argument since the American army has 500 troops in the war-torn country according to the figures provided by U.S. officials.
The minister also said he delivered all the documents proving “all the organic relations between the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party [PYD] and the PKK.”
Elaborating on the purge within the Turkish Armed Forces after the July 15 coup attempt, Canikli said a total of 8,570 personnel from the military were discharged after they were “determined to have organic links” to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).