ANKARA, July 14. /TASS/. Deliveries of Russian S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey may be over by April 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
"I hope a major part of S-400 components will be delivered by the end of this year and the entire process will be over by April 2020. And after that, we will continue to follow our path with bigger confidence," the Haberturk television channel quoted him as saying.
According to the Turkish leader, more Turkish specialists may be sent to Russia to undergo a training course to operate the missile defense systems. "Their current number is not enough. Now there are 100 specialists but this number may be increased ten-fold," he said.
Earlier in the day, the Turkish president said the S-400 deal with Russia was a most important agreement for present-day Turkey.
Deliveries of Russian S-400 missile defense systems to Turkey started on July 12. According to the Turkish defense ministry, three cargo planes delivered several truck tractors and a transport and load vehicle for S-400 systems to Murted Air Base. Another Russian plane arrived next day. The seventh plane reportedly landed on Sunday.
The media reported in November 2016 that talks were underway on possible sales of Russian S-400 systems to Turkey. The Russian side confirmed that the contract had been signed in September 2017. Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said back then that the deployment of S-400 systems would begin in October 2019.
According to Rostech, a Russian state-run hi-tech corporation, Director General Sergei Chemezov, the contract cost is 2.5 billion US dollars.
Turkey is the first NATO member states to buy such missile systems from Russia.
The United States has been seeking to break down the deal. It has repeatedly warned Turkey that in case it buys the Russian missile systems it would not get F-35 fighter jets.
By now, Turkey has ordered 30 out of possible 100 US F-35 fighters, multi-role stealth fighter jets capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Along with the United States, eight countries, namely Australia, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey, are taking part in the project. More to it, Israel and Japan buy such jets.
Russia’s S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is the latest long-range antiaircraft missile system that went into service in 2007. It is designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and surface targets. The system can hit aerodynamic targets at a range of up to 400 kilometers (249 miles) and tactical ballistic targets flying at a speed of 4.8 km/s (3 mi/s) at a distance of up to 60 kilometers (37 miles). Such targets include cruise missiles, tactical and strategic aircraft and ballistic missile warheads.
The system’s radars detect aerial targets at a distance of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles). The system’s 48N6E3 surface-to-air missiles can hit aerodynamic targets at altitudes of 10,000-27,000 meters and ballistic threats at altitudes of 2,000-25,000 meters.