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Turkey, Russia accelerate S-400 sale

04 April 2018
Russian S-400s deployed in Syria. Turkey and Russia have concluded an agreement to expedite delivery of systems to Turkey. Source: Russian Ministry of Defence

The Turkish government has accelerated the procurement of S-400 Triumf (SA-21 ‘Growler’) ground-based air defence systems from Russia.

Following a meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin on 3 April, the two leaders announced that they had agreed to an expedited delivery of the missiles from Russia. Turkey’s Undersecretary for Defense Industries, Ismail Demir, later confirmed on his Twitter account that the delivery schedule had moved to July 2019, compared with previous delivery estimates of 2020.

However, Erdogan confirmed that systems were to be manufactured in Russia, and that the two sides were looking at alternatives for defence industrial co-operation.

While the issue of offsets has been a key sticking point for the Turkish missile programme, Putin was quick to put concerns about technological security to rest when asked by reporters at a joint press conference.

“The transfer of technology is not a matter of trust or political interaction. It is a purely commercial issue that is decided between economic entities. There are no military or political considerations in this sphere,” he said.

Erdogan added that “different opinions regarding defence projects are considered when such decisions [on procurement] are made …. Our agencies and defence companies will conduct, and are conducting, meetings on these issues.”

The acquisition of the S-400 system is understood to be valued at USD2.5 billion, with Turkey paying 45% of this up front and Russia providing a loan to cover the remaining 55%. However, this cost may have increased, with both sides stating at the 3 April meeting that the price had been finalised, along with the accelerated delivery schedule. As a result of the expedited delivery, Turkey may have agreed to pay a higher fee to Russia.

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