ANKARA --- Ankara has sent military servicemen to Russia to undergo a training course on the use of the S-400 missile systems, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
"We have sent our specialists to Russia to undergo a training course on the use of the S-400 systems, the course will start today and last several months," he said, as cited by the Milliyet newspaper. "The number of the personnel keeps changing, all of them have their own goals," Akar added.
The Turkish defense minister also mentioned a new proposal from the United States. "On March 28-29, a new proposal came that concerns the Patriot missile systems. Talks are underway on their price, the transfer of technology and joint production," Millyet quoted Akar as saying.
Meanwhile, a group of US lawmakers submitted a document calling for imposing sanctions on Turkey under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and excluding Ankara from the F-35 program if Turkey purchases the S-400 systems from Russia.
News about Russian-Turkish talks on the delivery of the S-400 systems first came in November 2016. In September 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara had signed a contract with Moscow on purchasing the S-400 complexes and made an advance payment. Ankara will begin the deployment of the S-400 systems in October 2019, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said later at a press conference following talks with Erdogan that Moscow had decided to step up the delivery of the S-400 systems to Ankara.
The S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the most advanced long-range anti-aircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range ones, and can also be used against ground objectives. The S-400 system can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 35 km.