MOSCOW – Just a few days ago, Turkey received the first batch of its S-400 SAM system from Russia. “Following Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian anti-aircraft missile systems, the S-400 could be delivered to other countries of the Middle East too,” Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Duma’s international affairs committee, told the RT television channel.
According to him, “very important and serious countries” have declared their interest in Russian air defense systems, “and these needs, of course, will be met.” The deputy noted that deliveries will begin “in the very near future.” He did not specify which countries intend to acquire the S-400, but there were reports that Iran and Iraq are interested, and even traditionally pro-American Persian Gulf monarchies (Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia).
“Turkey is the first in line. S-400 and more modern weapons systems from Russia will definitely appear in the Middle East. We will closely cooperate, the volume of this cooperation is huge,” said Slutsky, adding that this cooperation should be “enhanced in every other way.”
On Friday, July 12, Turkey received the first batch of S-400 from Russia. During that day, three cargo planes with components of Russian air defense systems landed in Ankara, and the next day the fourth plane landed at the Murted airbase near Ankara.
Russia and Turkey signed a contract for the supply of four S-400 divisions for $ 2.5 billion in December 2017. In Washington and the NATO command, they oppose this deal, indicating that the Russian air defense system is not compatible with NATO weapons.
S-400 systems are world-class A2/AD (Anti-Access/Area Denial) weapons, which pretty much ensure a country’s safety even in a situation of overwhelming air superiority of an invading force.
The US has already excluded the Turkish military from the flight training program for F-35 fighters and promised to refuse to supply the aircraft to Turkey, despite the fact that Turkey has been a crucial participant in the Joint Strike Fighter program since the very beginning.
Turkey has invested billions of dollars in the JFS, but still, it will most likely be denied the troubled jets, in spite of already paying for the first batch of F-35 fighters. Lockheed Martin is currently trying to stop the Congress from banning Turkish F-35 acquisition, primarily because Turkey is a key partner in both R&D and production, with approximately 1000 parts of the F-35 being produced in the country. What’s maybe even more important, Turkey was to be one of the largest foreign customers, planning to acquire at least 100 jets, which is very important to Lockheed Martin, given the fact that even staunch US allies expressed concerns regarding F-35’s numerous flaws and are most likely to reduce their initial orders.
To make matters worse, Isreal already got its first batch of F-35 jets, although they haven’t taken part in the JFS program. To add insult to injury, they even got permission to modify the jet (F-35I), despite the fact that other countries, which participated in the program are denied such a privilege. This makes Turkey and other countries of the Middles East reluctant to cooperate with Americans, given their frequent change of heart when it comes to previously signed agreements.