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Turkey prefers Russia as its defense missile systems supplier. Turkey has agreed to pay $2.5 billion to acquire Russia’s most advanced missile defense system, a senior Turkish official said, in a deal that signals a turn away from the NATO military alliance that has anchored Turkey to the West for more than six decades.
The sides are currently sorting out technical details and it could take about one year to finalize the project, the Turkish official said. One battery may be available earlier if Russia decides to divert it from another country, the official added. The missiles are not ready to sell off-the-shelf and Russia will have to produce the batteries before delivering them, the official said.
The preliminary agreement sees Turkey receiving two S-400 missile batteries from Russia within the next year, and then producing another two inside Turkey, according to the Turkish official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.
According to bloomberg.com, the Russian system would not be compatible with other NATO defense systems, but also wouldn’t be subject to the same constraints imposed by the alliance, which prevents Turkey from deploying such systems on the Armenian border, Aegean coast or Greek border, the official said. The Russian deal would allow Turkey to deploy the missile defense systems anywhere in the country, the official said.
For Turkey, the key aspect of any deal is the transfer of technology or know-how, the Turkish official said. Turkey wants to be able to produce its own advanced defense systems, and the Russian agreement to allow two of the S-400 batteries to be produced in Turkey would serve that aim, the official said.
“There are a lot of different levels of technology transfer,” and any offer to Turkey would probably be limited in terms of sophistication, said Makienko, the Moscow-based analyst. “For Turkey to be able to copy the S-400 system, it would have to spend billions to create a whole new industry.”
The S-400 is designed to detect, track and then destroy aircraft, drones or missiles. It’s Russia’s most advanced integrated air defense system and can hit targets as far as 250 miles away. Russia has also agreed to sell them to China and India.
The official said the systems delivered to Turkey would not have a friend-or-foe identification system, which means they could be deployed against any threat without restriction.
U.S. and European rivals have also bid to co-produce missile defense systems with Turkey, as it seeks partnerships allowing it to enhance its domestic arms production amid a military buildup in the region.