Turkey on Wednesday signed a letter of intent with France and Italy aiming to strengthen cooperation on joint defense projects, which includes development of a new missile defense system.
Addressing a meeting of NATO defense ministers on Thursday, Turkey’s defense minister Nurettin Canikli was quoted as saying by Andolu Agency that the projects covered under the letter could help cooperating countries develop “top" systems for defending against lone missiles -- such as a SAMP-T-based system -- as well as address Turkey’s current gaps in missile defense.
He added that Turkey’s future use of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, which Turkey has committed to buy, would also be covered.
Turkey’s NATO allies have questioned the S-400 purchase and suggested it would be incompatible with alliance systems.
However, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a statement last month saying that the systems, should they be delivered to Ankara, will likely be used solely for Turkey’s own needs and won’t become integrated into NATO’s joint defenses.
Turkey has been considering the purchase of a modern long-range air defense system for quite some time. Back in 2013, Ankara announced plans to purchase the FD-2000 system from China, also sparking criticism from Washington. The Chinese deal however stalled, and was eventually scrapped.