ANKARA, March 8. /TASS/. The process of deploying Russian advanced S-400 air defense missile systems in Turkey will begin in October, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said at a meeting with editors of the Anadolu news agency on Friday.
"The deployment of S-400s will begin in October and the Air Force is studying, in which regions it is better to deploy them," the defense minister said.
Turkey’s defense chief reiterated that the acquisition of precisely Russian air defense systems was not "Turkey’s preference, but was a forced measure."
As Akar stressed, the S-400 surface-to-air missile systems are needed "to protect the country’s population."
The Turkish defense minister also said that Ankara and Washington "are continuing their negotiations on the delivery of US Patriot air defense missile systems to the republic."
It was reported in November 2016 that Turkey was in talks with Russia on purchasing S-400 air defense missile systems. The contract’s signing was confirmed by the Russian side on September 12, 2017 and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced at the time that Turkey had already made an advance payment under the contract.
In mid-June 2018, a source in military and diplomatic circles told TASS that Russian defense enterprises had been assigned the task of completing the production of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems in May 2019 for their delivery to Turkey.
The S-400 Triumf is the most advanced long-range air defense missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and can also be used against ground installations.
The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.