Turkey sent military personnel to Russia for S-400 missile training

Turkey has sent military personnel to Russia for their training on the S-400 air defense missile system purchased by Ankara and soon to be delivered, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said.

Turkey sent military personnel to Russia for S 400 missile training
5P85TM TEL for S-400 missile system (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

Turkey and the United States are at odds over Ankara's decision to buy the S-400s, as these Russian-made missiles are not compatible with NATO systems. Washington says this purchase jeopardizes Ankara's role in participating in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II programme, both for parts manufacture and fighter jet operation, as there would be secret information transfers. However, speaking to reporters late on Tuesday, May 21, Akar said that Turkey was fulfilling its responsibilities in the F-35 project and that Ankara expected the programme to continue as planned. He said talks with U.S. officials were still underway.

When succeeding Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti as new SACEUR and EUCOM commander, on May 2 and 3, Air Force General Tod Wolters already made clear his view that the fielding of the Russian S-400 air defense system by a NATO ally is unacceptable: “If Turkey proceeds down a path to procure and operate the S-400, they should not get the F-35,” he said at his Senate confirmation hearing on April 2. “I would contend that we all understand that Turkey is an important ally in the region, but it’s absolutely unsustainable to support co-location of the F-35 and the S-400.” What would happen to the two F-35As already delivered to Turkey but operated by Turkish pilots on U.S. soil remains uncertain. Same question about the Turkish defense industry involved in the spare parts production.

The minister also said Turkey was evaluating a U.S. offer to purchase Raytheon’s Patriot systems, adding that Ankara and Washington were working on price, technology transfer, joint production issues on the latest offer from the U.S.


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