Turkish authorities are in the final stages of making a decision on the acquisition of Russian S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft weapon systems, Turkish defense minister said, testing NATO’s limit in tolerating a Russian defense system in one of the alliance’s member states.
Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik said on Thursday that Ankara was in urgent need of the surface-to-air missile systems and that Ankara would make its decision soon.
Ankara will reportedly buy 2 batteries of S-400 upon reaching a loan agreement with Russia.
At present, Turkey relies on NATO-deployed ballistic missiles, but the country has been looking to develop its own system for air defense.
In 2015, Turkey backed out of a $3.4 billion deal with China to buy Beijing’s FD-2000 anti-aircraft weapon systems. The move was explained by China’s unwillingness to transfer technology.
In March, Russian Presidential Aide for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said Moscow does not see Turkey’s NATO membership as an obstacle for S-400 delivery.
Mr. Isik previously stated that Turkey had no plans to integrate the Russian S-400s into NATO missile defense system. But it is not clear how two different air defense systems could be operated in the same airspace.
Russia’s S-400 Triumph system uses four different missiles to destroy targets at a short- (40 kilometers) to very long (400 kilometers) range.
Last week, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said NATO has no right to criticize Turkey because it is not willing to cooperate or share its technology with Turkey. He added that Turkey has a shortcoming in air defense systems and since the Alliance is not cooperating, Ankara needs to prop up its air defense with a technology purchased from elsewhere.
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