Erdogan says S-400 missile system delivery will be completed next year

Posted at 4:05 PM, Jul 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-15 18:05:35-04

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the S-400 missile system delivery from Russia to Turkey will be completed by April 2020, according to Turkey’s state news agency Anadolu.

Speaking in Ankara, Erdogan said that there is a new goal to eventually jointly produce the S-400 with Russia. Moscow has confirmed the S-400 agreement includes partial transfer of technology.

The first shipment of the defense missile system—which can shoot down aircraft at a distance of up to 150 miles (240 km)—landed in Ankara last week, and is quickly looking like a sore spot in US-Turkish relations.

As CNN’s Tim Lister writes, the $2 billion deal between Russia and Turkey calls into question the decades-long strategic relationship between Turkey and the US. It likely nullifies a contract for Turkey to buy US F-35 combat aircraft — a plane the S-400 is designed to shoot down.

A US official said the administration was “aware of reports” that Turkey had taken delivery of the S-400 in a statement last week. “As the President said at the G20 ahead of meeting with Erdogan, ‘It’s a problem, there’s no question about it,’ ” the official added.

And while the US now mulls sanctions for Turkey, the deal also solidifies a deepening relationship between Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The next Russian delivery will arrive soon, a military-diplomatic source told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency last week. And a third delivery, carrying over “120 anti-aircraft missiles of various types” will be delivered “tentatively at the end of the summer, by sea,” the source added.

TASS also quoted the source saying that Turkish S-400 operators will travel to Russia for training in July and August. About 20 Turkish servicemen underwent training at a Russian training center in May and June, according to the source.