- Turkey will reportedly start getting the S-400 air-defense system it bought from Russia next year.
- The purchase has raised tensions between Turkey and its NATO allies, especially the US.
- Turkey is not the only US partner buying the S-400, which has frustrated US lawmakers and defense officials.
Russia will start delivering its advanced S-400 missile defense system to Turkey in 2019, the Interfax news agency cited Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport as saying on Tuesday.
A Turkish defense official said in April that the delivery of the S-400 batteries had been brought forward from the first quarter of 2020 to July 2019.
Turkey and Russia negotiated the purchase throughout 2017, finalizing a deal worth some $2.5 billion at the end of the year. Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made air-defense system has ratcheted up tensions between Ankara and the rest of the NATO alliance.
The missile system is not interoperable with NATO weapons systems. A Turkish officials said last year that the S-400 will not come with a friend-or-foe identification system, meaning it could be fired any target. In September, Turkey’s state media agency tweeted an infographic listing aircraft and missiles the S-400 could target, including NATO planes.
- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
The US has also expressed concern that Turkey’s deployment of the S-400 could risk the security of several US-made weapons used by Turkey, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
US legislators included a provision in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Donald Trump earlier this month, that bars delivery of the F-35 to Turkey until the Pentagon completes an assessment of relations between the US and Turkey and the effect of Ankara’s purchase of the S-400.
Turkey has already received two of the roughly 100 F-35s it planned to buy, and the measure blocking further deliveries came over the objections of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Turkey has said it will pursue international arbitration over the blocked F-35 sale.
The US has also put tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum over Ankara’s refusal to free a US pastor held there. Trump has said there “will be no concessions” on that issue.
Rosoboronexport also said it would switch to using local currencies in deals with foreign trade partners, instead of using the dollar, RIA news agency reported, according to Reuters.
- Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters
Turkey is not the first foreign buyer of the S-400. China finalized a deal with Rosoboronexport in late 2014 to upgrade its existing S-300 batteries with the S-400 system. Russia’s official news agency, Tass, reported in May 2018 that China had taken delivery of its first S-400 regiment.
And Turkey may not be the last US partner to frustrate Washington with an S-400 purchase.India’s defense minister said in July that New Delhi’s plan to buy the S-400 was at an “almost conclusive stage.”
US officials tried to warn India away from the deal, citing potential challenges to interoperability and issues with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which aims to penalize entities doing business with Russian arms or intelligence sectors. US lawmakers ultimately approved an exemption to CAATSA for countries like India that still use Russian-made weapons in the NDAA.
Saudi Arabia and Qatar are both also considering buying the S-400.
(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Andrew Osborn)