Does Turkey Have A Long-Term Air Defense Plan? (excerpt)
(Source: Hurriyet Daily News; published Sept 16, 2019)
By Serkan Demirtas
On Sept. 15, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that the delivery of the second battery of the S-400 air defense systems from Russia was completed. The components of the first and second battery are now deployed at Mürted Air Base near Ankara. The next stage stipulates the installation of these anti-ballistic missiles.

In the meantime, the training of the Turkish military personnel tasked to activate and use these systems has already begun in Russia. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reiterated that these systems will be activated and be ready to use by April 2020, denying claims that the S-400s will be kept in their unopened boxes at a hangar.

In response to criticisms from some NATO members, Turkey has explained many times that the S-400s will be used as a stand-alone system and won’t be integrated into existing NATO air defense systems. That means Turkey is spending around $2.5 billion for a system which can only be used as an independent defense mechanism without granting an added value to existing security architecture.

In addition, Erdoğan has expressed Turkey’s interest in cooperating with Russia in its plans to develop S-500 systems. The Turkish president made it clear, therefore, that his government is not running after short-term cooperation but a long-term one with joint ventures.

On the anti-ballistic missile side, Turkey is also in talks with other suppliers. In an interview with Reuters on Sept. 13, Erdoğan said: “I said no matter what package of ... S-400s we get, we can buy from you a certain amount of Patriots.”

Erdoğan says ready to buy Patriots

Erdoğan explained that he told this to U.S. President Donald Trump in a phone conversation recently. Trump was stunned to hear Turkey’s interest in buying around $3.5 billion worth in Patriot systems, the Turkish president said. That’s why Trump has asked Erdoğan twice whether he is sure on it. This will surely be an issue on the table when the two men will come together in the United States later this month on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly meetings.

At the same time when Turkey is in a big business with Russia and the U.S., it’s also in a process with a French/Italian consortium, the Eurosam, over the joint production of their SAMP/T air defense systems. As a result of a protocol between the parties, a definition study that was launched in early 2018 is expected to be completed in the coming months, before the end of 2019.

The Eurosam offers a technology transfer, co-manufacturing the SAMP/T systems and exporting them to the third countries. Plus, they can be integrated into the NATO systems.

The second most important pillar of the air defense is the quality and strength of the air forces. As a NATO ally, Turkey’s air forces have long been made of F series jetfighters obtained from the U.S. The F-16s, for example, are making the backbone of today’s air forces of Turkey since the 1980s. (end of excerpt)

Click here for the full story, on the Hurriyet website.


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