Turkey to use S-400s just like Greece using S-300s: Akar
Turkey will not integrate the Russian S-400 air defense systems into NATO’s defense architecture and will use them as a stand-alone weapon just like Greece is doing with its Russian made S-300 systems, the Turkish defense minister has said, stressing once again that the purchase of the Russian system was a necessity and not a choice.
“The S-400s will be used as stand-alone within the national system just like other Russian-made weapons are being used at NATO,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told Bloomberg in an interview on Oct. 22 ahead of a NATO defense ministerial meeting. Akar said Greece has the Russian S-300s in its inventory, along with some other NATO countries which still have Russian-made weapons.
The minister has confirmed that the systems were tested as part of the delivery program, but it was a pure technical activity.
The United States is categorically against Turkey’s purchase and use of the S-400s on grounds that the Russian system may pose a risk to the NATO systems and suspended Turkey’s participation to the joint production of the fifth generation F-35 fighters.
United States permanent representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said that it is problematic that Turkey tested the S-400s within NATO territory at a telephonic press conference on Oct 21.
“We, along with our all NATO allies, did whatever it takes to make Turkey give up buying missile defense system from Russia, which we recognize as an enemy. Buying a missile defense system from Russia and placing it in our NATO alliance ... this is a red line. No doubt about it,” she said.
At a press conference on Oct. 21, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg repeated that the procurement of the defense materials is a national decision, but that the alliance prefers and encourages the allied countries to strengthen their military with NATO systems. He said the S-400s cannot be operational with other relevant NATO systems.
S-400s not to be integrated into NATO
Akar clarified that the Russian systems will not be integrated into the command and control infrastructure of NATO, underlining, “Turkey is fulfilling all the responsibilities expected from NATO members.”
He also recalled that Turkey had to buy the systems from Russia as it was the only supplier responding to Turkey’s calls. “It was not an option but a necessity,” he suggested.
Turkey still needs more air defense systems for the full protection of the Turkish airspace and may purchase alternative weaponry like the Patriot from the U.S. and SAMP/T from an Italian-French consortium, Akar explained. “Turkey has worked with all its allies on alternative systems and is ready to do so.”
On a possibility of a procurement of Patriot systems from the U.S., Akar stressed they can be purchased if the guarantees over technology transfer, joint production and delivery date are given to Turkey.
“We cannot accept them saying, ‘We sold them, but the Congress does not approve,’” he said.