Russian Federation reportedly delivered first S-400 system to Turkey

Vitaliy Nevar  TASS

Vitaliy Nevar TASS

Turkey accepted the first shipment of a Russian surface-to-air S-400 defence system at a military airport in Ankara on Friday, thereby defying warnings and threats of sanctions from the US. A third delivery - of 120 guided missiles - will be carried out by ship at the end of the summer, the source was quoted as saying. The S-400 system can hit targets at a distance of round 250 miles and at an altitude up to around 22 miles. "We are strategic partners with the United States".

Washington fears that Russian Federation could spy on the advanced US F-35 stealth fighter jet through the S-400 radars. In May Washington scrapped a six-month waiver granted to Turkey and seven other big importers in order to step up attempts to isolate Tehran and choke off its oil revenues. "There will be more to follow after that conversation", he said.

The acting USA secretary of defense says Washington is aware that Turkey has begun taking delivery of a Russian-made S-400 air defense system. Last week USA officials said the administration still planned to impose sanctions on Turkey. "They should think deeply, because losing a country like Turkey will not be easy", Erdogan said, referring to officials in Washington. "Interoperability of our armed forces is fundamental to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for the conduct of our operations and missions".

In the first comments from Washington, acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the USA position on the issue has not changed.

Shanahan sent a letter on June 6 to Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar that Turkey would be pulled from the F-35 Lightning II jet program - including sales and the banning of Turkish contractors - unless Ankara decides not to go ahead with purchasing S-400. And Turkish maintenance personnel are being trained at Eglin AFB, Fla.

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"It is no secret that Erdogan is positioning Turkey to be a "Eurasian" power, which means that Turkey needs to balance its relationship with China and Russian Federation as much as it does with the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation", he told AFP. This penalizes countries that purchase military equipment from blacklisted firms.

Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation confirmed on Friday it had started delivering the S-400 systems and the deliveries would continue in accordance with an agreed schedule, the RIA news agency reported. It is the fourth generation of long-range Russian Surface-to-Air-Missiles (SAMs). "That means they won't receive aircraft, people who are manufacturing parts for the aircraft will not have those contracts, maintenance facilities will not be funded".

Plans are also under way to remove Turkey from the programme altogether.

According to the Turkish Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, the remaining components will be delivered in the near future. US military and intelligence officials have warned for months that allowing the Russian system to operate within the same network as the F-35 would provide Moscow with sensitive information on how to defeat the technologically sophisticated fighter jet that is slated to become a critical element of many North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and partner countries' air forces.

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