The long awaited deal has taken place. A deposit has already been paid. Turkey has finally signed the $2.5bn (£1.9bn) contract with Russia to buy S-400 advanced missile defense system. With a range of 400 kilometers (248 miles), the system can shoot down up to 80 targets simultaneously, aiming two missiles at each one, at an altitude of up to 30 km.
The system is not operationally compatible with the systems used by NATO countries, which gives Turkey a military capacity independent of the alliance. NATO commanders will not have control over it. The identification friend or foe (IFF) equipment won’t prevent Turkey from using it against NATO aircraft and missiles. Reaching full operational capability will require Russian personnel to be stationed in Turkey on advice, assistance and training missions.
The technology transfer component of the S-400 deal is especially important as it would allow Turkey to rapidly expand domestic defense industry with Russia’s help. Russia would supply two batteries and help Ankara build two more such systems. A few years ago, the US refused to let Turkey produce Patriot air defense systems on its soil and the deal was off.
Ankara does not have industrial infrastructure to produce air defense systems. Russian specialists will have to come and build it from scratch. As a result, Russia will get access to the defense infrastructure of a NATO member state. The agreement to build the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Turkey, which is to be launched by 2023, is another example of fruitful economic cooperation.
NATO insists members of the alliance are obligated to use military hardware that is interoperable with each other’s systems. But the S-400 deal is not the first time the principle of interoperability is not observed. Greece purchased Russia’s S-300 missile system several years ago.
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