Turkey, Russia ink deal for two S-400 air missile defense systems

November 22, 2017 10:55 am
This file photo shows a Russian S-400 air defense missile system. (Photo by AFP)
Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli says and have signed an agreement for the purchase of two S-400 missile defense systems, stressing that the first delivery of the anti-aircraft weapon system to the Turkish military is expected in 2019.
Speaking to the parliament’s budget commission in Ankara on Wednesday, Canikli said the tender would be finalized in the coming days. 
Meanwhile, the Turkish defense minister noted that his country had received bids last Friday for the production of 500 domestically-designed and -manufactured Altay main battle tanks.
Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli 
The Altay tank project is estimated to be worth some seven billion euros ($8.24 billion).
Turkish President said in September that Ankara had already made its first payment for two S-400 air defense missile systems.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the Justice and Development Party’s provincial heads meeting in Ankara, Turkey, on November 17, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Under the deal, Russia would send two S-400 systems to Turkey within the next year and then help the country domestically produce two more batteries. The deal is said to be worth around $2.5 billion.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Turkish-language Akşam newspaper in early November, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that Ankara may cancel its deal with Russia on acquiring the S-400 missile systems and seek a deal with other partners if Moscow is reluctant to share the technology of the advanced weapon system with his Anatolian country.
The S-400, whose full name is the Triumf Mobile Multiple Anti-Aircraft Missile System (AAMS), is an advanced Russian missile system designed to detect, track, and destroy planes, drones, or missiles as far as 402 kilometers away. It has previously been sold only to China and India.
Turkey is striving to boost its air defense, particularly after Washington decided in 2015 to withdraw its Patriot surface-to-air missile system from Turkey’s border with Syria, a move that weakened Turkey’s air defense.
Turkey, being a NATO member state with the second-largest army in the military alliance, drew an outpouring of criticism from the US and other members of the bloc for drifting toward Moscow.
“They went crazy because we made the S-400 agreement. What were we supposed to do, wait for you?” said Erdogan on September 13, a day after he inked the deal with the Russians.
Before gravitating towards Russia, the Turkish military reportedly walked out of a $3.4 billion contract for a similar Chinese system. The withdrawal took place under purported pressure from Washington.
Ankara’s ties with its Western allies in NATO have been strained over a range of issues.
The Turkish leader has been critical of Washington for supporting Kurdish groups in Syria that he says are responsible for terror attacks inside Turkey. The Turkish president has also slammed American officials for rejecting his requests to hand over Fethullah Gulen, a powerful opposition figure living in the US.
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