Turkey to Deploy Russian S-400’s in October 2019 #TurkeyRussia
Turkey will begin the deployment of Russian S-400 air defence systems in October 2019 and has started selecting military personnel for the project, state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Defense Minister Hulusi Akar as saying on Thursday.
Turkey signed a $2.5 billion agreement with Russia in December to purchase the S-400 missiles despite pressure from the United States. Turkey is also buying Lockheed Martin F-35 advanced fighter jets from the United States, but Washington has warned the deal could be at risk if Ankara does not drop the S-400 purchase.
The U.S. Senate passed a bill in June that could remove Turkey from the F-35 programme if it goes ahead with the purchase of the S-400s. NATO officials say using the F-35 and S-400 together could compromise the F-35 and jeopardise the stealth fighter’s technological edge.
“As of October 2019, installation operations will begin” for the Russian S-400 system, Anadolu Agency quoted Hulusi Akar as saying. “Currently, we are in the process of selecting personnel.”
Akar said personnel would go to Russia in early 2019 to receive training, but he did not say where the S-400 systems would be deployed, only that work was underway.
Akar said U.S. and NATO concern over the S-400 purchase was unfounded. “The S-400 purchase is not a matter of choice for us, but necessity,” he said.
The minister said Ankara had earlier requested the United States and European countries to sell their air defence systems to Turkey, but had not received answers yet.
Akar said Ankara did not expect any issue with the delivery of the F-35 fighter jets. Two F-35s were handed over to Turkey at a ceremony in Texas in June, and two Turkish pilots had gone to the United States for training.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in September that Ankara would not ask any country for permission to purchase S-400 defence missile systems from Russia.