T-Loramids Long-Range Air-and Missile-Defence System
Turkey on April 2017 signed a contract with Russia to acquire the S-400 anti-missile shield after protracted efforts to purchase an air defence missile system from NATO ally US was unsuccessful. US officials argued the Russian missile defence would be incompatible with NATO systems and expose its fifth generation, the state-of-art F-35 jet to possible Russian subterfuge. Turkey says the S-400 would not be integrated into the NATO systems and has no chance to pose any threat to the alliance or its armaments.
Turkey started to receive the second batch of S-400s, a Russian missile defence system, the Turkish Defence Ministry said 27 August 2019. "The second batch of S-400 missile defence system equipment of has arrived at Murted Air Base near Ankara," the ministry said. “The delivery process will continue around one month,” the ministry said. First components of Russian-made S-400 missile system arrived in Ankara, Turkish officials said 11 July 2019. Turkey's NTV broadcaster reported that the S-400 might not be ready for use until the autumn.
The deal is worth some $2.5 billion (€2.2 billion). The purchase sparked a row within NATO, with the US threatening sanctions against Turkey for buying the Russian-made military technology. Specifically, the Pentagon fears that Russia will be able to spy on the US-made F-35, the latest generation fighter jet, once S-400 becomes part of Turkey's defense network. Earlier this year, the US suspended deliveries related to the F-35 and gave Turkey a deadline until the end of July to cancel the S-400 deal. If Ankara did not comply, Turkish pilots training to fly F-35 in the US would be expelled from the country.
Turkey's Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli confirmed 27 December 2017 that the deal to install Russian long-range anti-aircraft missile had been finalised. Russia will sell Turkey four batteries of S-400 surface-to-air missiles for $2.5 billion under a deal that is almost complete, Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state conglomerate Rostec, told the Kommersant daily.
National Defense Minister of Turkey Nurettin Canikli confirmed the statement and added that the S-400 deal had been concluded. During a press conference in Tunisia Canikli was asked about Sergey Chemezov's remarks. "That is correct. Two systems, four batteries in total. The deal is completely done," Canikli said. He said what was at stake during the negotiations was whether to take out a loan or finance the deal themselves. "But the idea of paying a portion of the total amount by getting a loan prevailed in the end. Otherwise, it was already a done deal," he added.
The S-400 is Russia's most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system with a capacity of carrying three types of missiles that can destroy ballistic and cruise missiles. The system can track and engage up to 300 targets at a time and has an altitude ceiling of 27 kilometers.
The deal has caused concern in the West because Turkey is a member of NATO but the Russian missile system cannot be integrated into NATO's military architecture. Chemezov said that Turkey was the first NATO member state to acquire the advanced S-400 missile system.
The Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said in a statement 12 September 2017 that Russia and Turkey had reached an agreement on Russian S-400 missile systems deliveries to Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said 13 September 2017 that Turkey's deal with Russia on the supplies of S-400 missile systems "made the United States furious.... "Did we need to wait for you [the US]? We take and will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure our national security. We are the hosts in our own house," the Turkish leader emphasized. He added that after the US and Israel had refused to supply combat drones to Turkey, Ankara developed and began to produce them itself, causing the two states' concern.
US Democratic Party Senator Ben Cardin, the member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to the US administration on 15 September 2017, in which he noted that Turkey's purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems requires an automatic imposition of sanctions against Ankara. In August 2017, Washington imposed sanctions against Russia, targeting defense and economic sectors and restricting dealings with Russian companies. The law imposes sanctions "on any person that conducts a significant transaction with the Russian Federation’s defense or intelligence sectors," Cardin wrote in the letter.
In March 2017, Russian Presidential Aide for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Kozhin said that Russia did not see Ankara's potential NATO membership as an obstacle for delivering the S-400 systems to Turkey. Some other NATO members might have a differing view. If NATO was unready for Turkey to acquire a Chinese air and missile defense system, the prospects of a Russian system in Turkey must seem even less appealing. This deal may become part of the larger re-appraisal of Turkey's relationship with Europe. Erdogan's imposition of a dictatorship has ended prospects for Turkey's membership in the EU for many, many years to come. Turkey may find Russia to be annoying from time to time, but Moscow clearly does not pose the threat that it did during the Cold War. THAAD has become a lever for China to pry South Korea away from America, and the S-400 may prove a lever to pry Turkey loose from Europe.
Negotiations on possible deliveries of the Russian air defense system to Turkey have been conducted by both parties since 2016. In March 2017, Sergei Chemezov, Chief Executive Officer of Russia's state military equipment manufacturer Rostec, said that Turkey was ready to buy S-400 missile systems from Russia with a loan granted by Moscow. The S-400 Triumph is Russia's next-generation mobile surface-to-air missile system carrying three different types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at a short-to-extremely-long range. It integrates a multifunctional radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and a command and control center.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said 28 April 2017 that Russia and Turkey had reached an agreement on purchases of the S-400 air defense systems, the negotiations on the price were underway. "We agreed in principle with Russia on S-400 purchases. The negotiations on the joint production and prices are underway," Cavusoglu told the Haberturk newspaper. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan may discuss the deliveries of S-400 systems to Turkey during talks in May 2017. Erdogan's spokesman Ibrahim Kalin also confirmed that the discussion was on the agenda of the upcoming talks between the Russian and Turkish leaders.
Defense analyst Maxim Shepovalenko, the deputy director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, told Vzglyad that Ankara's negotiations with Russia underscore President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's foreign policy style. "An air defense system is not a tank or a steamship. This is one of the highest precision weapons systems. Not many countries are capable of producing such armaments," he said, naming the US, Europe and Israel as other manufacturers. "All the rest are cloning [these systems]. This is classic Erdogan – balancing between two sides."
The US offered to provide Turkey with a powerful air defence which would meet 'all of Turkey's requirements if it were to stop its purchase of the S-400,' Anadolu Agency reported 29 November 2018, summarizing a Pentagon report to Congress. Highlighting Turkey's "unique geostrategic position" between Europe, Russia and the Middle East, as well as its powerful military, which can be used in NATO operations abroad, the Pentagon nevertheless warned that it would "reassess Turkey's continued participation as one of eight partner nations" in the F-35 stealth fighter program "should they continue with their purchase of the S-400."
"The US Government has made clear to the Turkish Government that purchasing the S-400 would have unavoidable negative consequences for US-Turkey bilateral relations, as well as Turkey's role in NATO," the report added, according to Anadolu.
A report that Turkey might pass Russian modern S-400 antiaircraft systems to the US was met with a high degree of scepticism in Moscow. On 19 December 2018, Bloomberg news agency reported that Ankara has allegedly been considering an option to grant American defense companies access to the Russian know-how upon receiving the S-400 due in October 2019.
Meanwhile, Russian officials and experts question if the sensational news could be fake or even a deliberate provocation intended to undermine the $2.5-billion contract the Russian military hardware exporting company Rosoboronexport and Ankara inked last December.
The report by Bloomberg is “a provocation” aimed at disruption of the Russia-Turkey military-technical cooperation, the Rosoboronexport’s spokesman Vyacheslav Davidenko tells TRT World. “We’ve got used to that sort of provocation long ago and pay scant attention to that. The contract over the S-400 delivery to Turkey has been implemented as intended and its cancellation has been out of the question,” he said.
Turkey was widely reported to test the system in mid-October 2020, after issuing notices warning vessels and aircraft to avoid the area in the Black Sea. A Haber television, an outlet close to the Turkish government, reported the test on its website. Other Turkish media carried similar reports. Turkey’s defence ministry said it would neither deny nor confirm missile tests.
Tests of the S-400s could stoke tensions between Turkey and the United States, which sharply opposed Ankara’s purchase of the weapons from Moscow on grounds they compromise shared NATO defence systems. On 16 October 2020, the US State Department warned of “potential serious consequences” for its security relationship with Turkey if it activates the system. “If confirmed, we would condemn in the strongest terms the S-400 test missile launch as incompatible with Turkey’s responsibilities as a NATO ally and strategic partner of the United States,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
In 2019 the Turkish military conducted radar tests of the surface-to-air defence system, which is among the world’s most advanced and can spot and track incoming aircraft at medium and long ranges. In August 2020, a Hellenic Air Force F-16 was targeted with the S-400’s radar when returning from a multinational military exercise, with Turkey being sharply rebuked for its actions against a fellow NATO ally.
The United States imposed sanctions 14 December 2020 targeting fellow NATO member Turkey’s Defence Industry Directorate (SSB), its chief, Ismail Demir, and three other staff over the purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system. The United States imposed sanctions pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for knowingly engaging in a significant transaction with Rosoboronexport (ROE), Russia’s main arms export entity, by procuring the S-400 surface-to-air missile system. Turkey said it was evaluating reciprocal action against what it considers a hostile attack. Turkey’s military procurement agency had its export licences and authorisations banned by the US. The organisation’s top officials will also face asset freezes and visa restrictions. The long-delayed move comes as US President-elect Joe Biden prepares to take office. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erodgan said the sanctions won’t stop his country from building up its defences.
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