Turkey signs $2.5bn deal with Russia for missiles, NATO concerned
Turkey and Russia have reportedly signed a $2.5 billion deal for Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems to Ankara. The deal has raised concerns within the West as Turkey is a NATO member and the missile system can't be integrated into the alliance's military architecture. The deal is aimed at boosting Turkey's capability to counter threats from Kurdish and other militants and cross-border conflicts.
S-400 is the world's most advanced surface-to-air missile system
The S-400 missile system can shoot down aircraft up to 400km away. It can also intercept ballistic missiles up to 60km away. Each S-400 battery has four types of interceptor missiles meant for a different kind of targets. Each battery can engage up to 36 different targets at the same time. India is also negotiating for the purchase of six S-400 batteries.
Turkish personnel to operate S-400 "independently," not Russians
Turkey's Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) said Moscow would begin deliveries of the S-400 missile batteries from 2020. Russia's defense manufacturing conglomerate Rostec said Turkey will buying four batteries. However, the SSM has said only two batteries would be purchased from Russia with a third being optional. The SSM said the S-400 would be operated "independently" by Turkish military personnel, not Russian advisors.
S-400 deal signifies normalized Turkey-Russia relations
The S-400's deal with Turkey has unnerved NATO amid its growing concerns over Russia's military presence in the Middle East. NATO had earlier warned Turkey of unspecified consequences over the S-400 purchase. Interestingly, the deal is the biggest sign of normalized Russia-Turkey ties which witnessed a sharp deterioration in 2015 after Turkey shot down a Russian air force jet.