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S-400 to be operated in Turkey without Russian personnel - defense industry official

Head of the Defense Industry Directorate Ismail Demir stressed that Turkey planed to put the Russian systems into service in April 2020
S-400 missile systems Sergei Malgavko/TASS
S-400 missile systems
© Sergei Malgavko/TASS

ANKARA, November 16. /TASS/. No Russian personnel will operate the S-400 missile defense systems after they enter service in Turkey, Ismail Demir, head of the Turkish Defense Industry Directorate, said in a televised interview with CNN Turk on Saturday.

"Turkish specialists are continuing their training in Russia. We have reiterated more than once that there will be no Russian personnel [to operate the S-400]," he said adding that Turkey had no plans to put aside the S-400 missile defense systems having purchased them from Russia.

"We are planning to put the Russian systems into service in April 2020," he stressed.

On Friday, Turkish presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said, "Turkey will not back out of the S-400 deal. The systems will be put into operation."

After talks with visiting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on November 13 in Washington, US President Donald Trump said they had agreed to instruct key ministers to take efforts to settle the situation around Ankara’s S-400 deal. He said he was convinced the two countries would be able to find a solution to the S-400 and F-35 matters.

The first reports about the talks between Russia and Turkey on the deliveries of S-400 air defense missile systems emerged in November 2016. Russia confirmed in September 2017 that the relevant contract worth $2.5 billion had been signed. Under the contract, Ankara will get a regiment set of S-400 air defense missile systems (two battalions). The deal also envisages partial transfer of production technology to the Turkish side. Deliveries began on July 12, 2019.

The United States and NATO have been seeking to break down the deal. The White House said in mid-July that "Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible."

Russia’s S-400 ‘Triumf’ (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) 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.