Russian air defense system purchase ‘most likely,’ Turkish minister confirms

Russian air defense system purchase ‘most likely,’ Turkish minister confirms

Russian air defense system purchase ‘most likely,’ Turkish minister confirms Russia’s S-400 long-range air defense missile system is most likely to be selected for Turkey’s long-range anti-missile shield, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık has said.

“Russia’s S-400 missile system seems to be the most possible in discussions. Some progress was obtained in the talks, but we are not at the stage of a signature yet,” Işık said Feb. 22 in a televised interview. 

“There is a schedule in negotiations,” he said, abstaining from giving further details.

When asked about NATO member states’ concerns over the possible deal, Işık said: “I think they will understand. Some NATO countries also have non-NATO systems.”

He said Turkey would not be able to use the NATO database if Ankara preferred to purchase a Russian system. “But we have to face up to it,” he noted.

The minister’s remarks came after Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov said on Feb. 20 that Russia and Turkey were currently negotiating a deal concerning the purchase of the S-400 Triumf missile system. 

“The negotiations are underway, the question of financing is being discussed right now,” Russia’s Sputnik Agency quoted Chemezov as saying. 

In service since 2007, the S-400 Triumf (NATO codename SA-21 Growler) is an anti-aircraft and anti-missile system capable of intercepting all types of modern air weaponry, including fifth-generation warplanes, as well as ballistic and cruise missiles at a maximum range of nearly 250 miles, Russia’s Sputnik Agency said. 

The complex, comprising up to eight battalions, is reported to be capable of engaging up to 80 targets.

In November last year, Işık said Turkey was in talks with Russia on the potential purchase of S-400 air missile defense systems, adding that Ankara was also in touch with other countries on missile defense. 

Turkey entirely dropped a tentative agreement to purchase a $3.4-billion long-range missile defense system from a Chinese company in 2015, ending a two-year saga over the deal, which had worried NATO allies.

Among the companies included in the cancelled tender were Eurosam, Lockheed Martin and CPMIEC.

Turkey then said it planned to develop its own. Now Ankara is considering purchasing or cooperating on options. 

Such a deal with Russia became possible after the two countries started mending ties last summer that were broken when a Turkish jet downed a Russian warplane for breaching the border in 2015.