Turkey adhered to the contract with Russia on S-400 procurements despite the intense pressure from Washington to drop it. Still, Turkey hasn’t abandoned plans to acquire European and US-made air defences at the same time.
France will be deploying SAMP/T air defence systems produced by the French-Italian consortium Eurosam on Turkey’s southern border, Reuters reported citing anonymous Turkish military officials. The media’s sources didn’t specify the timeframe for systems’ deployment.
Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar announced the country’s intent to negotiate a deal on SAMP/Ts deployment with France on 22 May, noting that the initiative came from Paris.
“France suggested deploying a squadron of SAMP/T in Turkey. Currently, in Incirlik, there is a Spanish squadron of Patriot missile systems and an Italian battery of SAMP/Ts in Kahramanmaras. France proposed looking at these two places as possible deployment [locations] for its systems”, he said.
Notably, Russia has just finished shipping the first portion of S-400 air defence systems to Turkey under the contract, which was inked in December 2017. The US pressured Turkey hard to drop the deal, citing alleged incompatibility of S-400s with NATO systems and their threat to F-35 jets, ordered by Ankara.
Turkey offered Washington to create a working group to address the concerns, but the US never accepted the offer. Instead, the White House decided to suspend Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme, in Which Ankara heavily invested, and threatened the country with sanctions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara chose S-400s because Russia offered a better deal than the US, but noted that the country is still willing to buy Patriots from Washington.