Turkey has expressed interest to purchase S-400 Triumf mobile surface-to-air missile systems from Russia in a multi-billion dollar deal which might see a preliminary agreement during the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Moscow later this month.
In 2013 Turkey had attempted buying Chinese T-LORAMIDS air defense system from China Precision Manufacturing Import-Export Corp (CPMIEC) for $3.44 billion.
The Russian bid for the S-300 system was disqualified terming it twice more expensive. Other bidders included consortium of US companies Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, maker of the Patriot system, and the European Eurosam, maker of the SAMP-T.
After its NATO partners strongly objected, Ankara eventually abandoned the Chinese missile system procurement and decided to build on its own air defense system. NATO was against the Chinese buy as it would expose alliance information to China. Turkey had countered the argument with China willing to part with technology transfer and would eventually help Turkey in its home production.
This time the Chinese T-LORAMIDS are replaced by Russian S-400 missile systems. The argument remains the same.
Turkey "aims to develop defense systems of this type primarily by itself. We need technology exchange and joint production. These issues are important to Turkey," Turkish MP Ahmet Berat Conkar of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) was quoted as saying by Sputnik last Friday.
The successful deployment of S-400 systems in Syria might be one reason why Ankara is eyeing the missile systems. The deployment meant a n effective no fly zone of 400 km radius.
Russian S-300, S-400 air defense systems deployed in Syria's Hmeymim and Tartus have combat ranges that may surprise any unidentified airborne targets,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov was quoted as saying by Sputnik in October last year.
“Operators of Russian air defense systems won't have time to identify the origin of airstrikes, and the response will be immediate. Any illusions about ‘invisible’ jets will inevitably be crushed by disappointing reality,” Konashenkov had said.
Ironically, Russia intensified its air-defence systems deployment in Syria after Turkey shot down its Su-33 Jet citing airspace violation.