ANKARA, Turkey — A top government official in Ankara has said the deployment of a long-range air and anti-missile defense system that Turkey plans to acquire from Russia will be deployed in the country in 2019.
Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli said the Turkish contract with Russia for a single S-400 involves an option for the purchase of a second.
“This contract has been signed and a down payment has been made. It’s a done deal,” Canikli said.
Turkish procurement officials said that if the two countries agreed to opt for the option clause — for a second system — then Turkey will demand technological know-how. “This is a matter to be discussed at later stages,” one official said, refusing to comment on the level of technology transfer Turkey requests.
But he did say Turkey wants to have a customized identification, friend or foe, or IFF, system on the S-400s.
“We want to make it [the S-400] a standalone system we can operate with our own source codes, including the IFF,” the official said.
Turkey will have to operate the S-400 on a standalone basis because the system cannot be made interoperable with NATO and U.S. assets deployed in Turkish territory.
In 2013, Turkey selected China Precision Import-Export Corporation for its first long-range air and anti-missile program. In 2015, under pressure from its NATO allies, Ankara scrapped that program. Early this year Turkish officials said they were close to a deal with Russia for the procurement of the S-400 system.
In October, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the country is also interested in acquiring a future Russian air and anti-missile system, the S-500, which is under development.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s talks with the European Eurosam group have been progressing since 2016 for the co-production of the SAMP/T air-defense system and have matured recently. The two Turkish prime contractors for the co-production program will be state-controlled military electronics concern Aselsan, Turkey’s largest defense company, and missile-maker Roketsan.
Burak Ege Bekdil is the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.