Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has proposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to jointly produce Russia’s cutting-edge S-500 missile systems.
“Russia has given us credit for the purchase of S-400 under acceptable conditions, and in the second and third stages we will start joint production. I also proposed to Russia the joint production of the S-500,” the Turkish news agency Anadolu reported Erdogan as saying.
Earlier, the Turkish leader announced that Ankara is ready to use Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems if necessary. “They are defense systems, what are we going to do with them other than to use them?”, Erdogan rhetorically remarked.
Russian military analyst Viktor Baranets has evaluated Ankara’s proposal and offered his comments on the possibility of Moscow agreeing to the idea.
“Erdogan’s proposal seems exotic and mysterious, mainly because not all of the issues surrounding the purchase of our S-400 complexes using Russian credit from Turkey are now resolved. The final phase of [S-500] testing has not yet entered the service of the Russian Army,” he said.
The analyst believes that such an agreement “is now unlikely, since we have no experience of Russia commencing joint production of brand-new war material with any other country.”
In this regard, Baranets recalled previous Russian authorities’ ruling that “a new weapon must first enter the service of the army and only then can the question arise of its joint production or sale to another country.”
In December 2017, Turkey and Russia signed a contract to sell S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Ankara. Ankara is set to buy two batteries of this anti-aircraft defense system, which will be operated by Turkish forces. The two sides agreed to cooperate in the development of S-400 production in Turkey. Erdogan claims that the contract has already been paid in advance.
Moscow has yet to make an official statement on the Turkish proposal.
Erdogan’s statement comes on the heels of the US threatening Turkey and other states with sanctions and “serious consequences” if they follow through with the military trade with Russia.
Ankara’s eagerness over the S-400 deal might also be a sign of Turkey changing geopolitical course. As I suggested before: “having S-400’s is a more clear sign that Turkey expects its military rivals to not be the same as those who invented, designed, and created the S-400 system.”
On the other hand, insofar as Turkey remains a member of NATO and hosts US military bases, Russia might not be keen on handing over any parts of its widely acclaimed missile defense technologies.