During a public speech in the capital Ankara, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated that the deal to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia has been closed.
“I’m not saying that Turkey is buying S-400 systems. I’m saying that Turkey has already bought them, and this is a done deal. They will be delivered next month,” the Turkish leader said in a speech, aired by Turkey’s NTV channel.
“We are not going to request anyone’s approval to satisfy our needs regarding the defense industry. Have we not requested the United States to sell defense systems to US? We did, but they said ‘no.’ We were told that the US Congress would never let this happen,” he continued.
Meanwhile, Sergei Chemezov, who heads Russia’s state corporation Rostec, said he expected the supplies to begin in two months.
President Erdogan also expressed hope that Russia and Turkey would launch joint production of those systems soon.
“We signed this contract not just because the price was good, but also for the opportunity of joint production. I hope we would begin it soon,” he added.
Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey, Alexey Yerkhov, assured earlier on Wednesday that Moscow would honor all its commitments under the deal. “Russia has assumed certain obligations to the Turkish Republic, and Russia will fairly fulfill those obligations. For that, joint efforts of experts from our countries will be required,” the diplomat said.
The United States has been seeking to break down the deal. It has repeatedly warned Turkey that in case it buys the Russian missile systems it would not get F-35 fighter jets.
“We are not just buying the F-35 jets, we are also partners in their production. We have made an advance payment of $1.25 million,” the Haber Turk TV quoted the Turkish president as saying in Ankara. “[US President Donald] Trump and I will be in Japan later this month, and I hope that we will have an opportunity to meet and discuss this issue. However, it is also possible to discuss it by phone ahead of the visit to Japan.”
The US-based Foreign Policy magazine reported that the United States has already halted delivery of F-35 materials and related equipment to Turkey and suspended the training of Turkish pilots, which is necessary to operate the aircraft. According to the magazine, “Turkey’s participation in the F-35 program will be suspended as of July 31,” meaning that 42 Turkish students attending F-35 training at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona and Eglin Air Force Base in Florida will be required to depart by that date. Training for the 34 Turkish students scheduled to arrive in the United States later this year will also be suspended
The media reported in November 2016 that talks were underway on possible sales of Russian S-400 systems to Turkey. The Russian side confirmed that the contract had been signed in September 2017. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said back then that the deployment of S-400 systems would begin in October 2019. According to Rostech Director General Sergei Chemezov, the contract cost is 2.5 billion US dollars. Turkey is the first NATO member states to buy those missile systems from Russia.
Russia’s S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the latest long-range antiaircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and surface targets. The system can hit aerodynamic targets at a range of up to 400 kilometers (249 miles) and tactical ballistic targets flying at a speed of 4.8 km/s (3 mi/s) at a distance of up to 60 kilometers (37 miles). Such targets include cruise missiles, tactical and strategic aircraft and ballistic missile warheads.
The system’s radars detect aerial targets at a distance of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles). The system’s 48N6E3 surface-to-air missiles can hit aerodynamic targets at altitudes of 10,000-27,000 meters and ballistic threats at altitudes of 2,000-25,000 meters