Turkey confirms further preparation for S-400 missiles deployment

Turkey is planning to maintain the deployment of its S-400 Triumf ‘SA-21 Growler’ air defense systems despite NATO objections, the country’s minister of national defense Hulusi Akar said on November 12. “We continue checking and readying the [S-400] systems in accordance with our plans. We will operate the S-400 in the way some NATO members deploy their S-300”, said Akar as quoted by Turkey’s Anadolu news agency.
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S-400 Triumf (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Ankara previously demonstrated its firm intention to deploy the S-400 despite NATO objections and possible US sanctions. n late October, the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed the first-ever trials of the S-400. “This is true. We do not think of the US attitude towards them [the trials]. For instance, Greece operates S-300, and the United States does not ask them any questions in this field. We will continue the trials of the S-400, following our own way,” said Erdogan as quoted by the TASS news agency.

Speaking at the 7th provincial meeting of the Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) held on October 25 in Malatya, Erdogan confirmed Turkey’s firm intention to operate the S-400. “The United States just does not know the country it is trying to contend with. You told us to send the S-400 back to Russia. But we are not a tribal state, we are Turkey,” he said as quoted by the local TV broadcaster TRT.

Erdogan’s speech indicates Turkey’s firm intention to retain the S-400 systems in its inventory. On October 16, the country’s military successfully tested the ADSs against three Meggitt Banshee unmanned aerial targets. A military-diplomatic source told TASS on the same day that the systems fired three surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and destroyed three targets.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar confirmed the aforementioned trials and referred to them as typical technical procedures under a contract. The official also highlighted a way, in accordance with which the Triumf might be operated: the country will not integrate the S-400 into the NATO chain of command and will use it as a stand-alone air defense weapon.

Therefore, Turkey seems to retain the S-400 in its inventory. At present, the Triumf is the most powerful air defense weapon being operated by Ankara.

The S-400 is designed to engage strategic aircraft and tactical aerial systems, ballistic missiles, hypersonic threats, and other air attack assets in an electronically contested environment. The Triumf engages aerodynamic and ballistic targets at distances of up to 400 km and up to 60 km, respectively. The S-400’s target engagement altitude lays between several meters and several dozen kilometers. It should be mentioned that the system engages ballistic targets flying at a speed of up to 4.8 km/s.

According to Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms exporter (a subsidiary of state corporation Rostec), the export-oriented modification of the Triumf shoots down ballistic targets at a range between 5 km and 60 km, with target engagement altitudes laying between 2 km and 25 km. The full S-400 ADS simultaneously guides up to 160 surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and engages up to 80 aerial targets.

Such performance provides the Triumf with a positive market outlook. Compared to its closest competitor, the US-made Patriot PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability 3) ADS, the S-400 engages almost twice as many aerial targets (the PAC-3 keeps its eye at some 40 aerial vehicles) and has an advantage in terms of tracking (the PAC-3 tracks some 125 aerial targets). At the same time, the Patriot is a strong peer-to-peer market player and should not be written off: it is an efficient system, which is capable of dealing with most aerial threats on the modern battlefield.

The S-400 stands among the most demanded Russian-made export-oriented weapon systems on the global arms market. For 20 years of its activity (the company will celebrate its 20th anniversary on November 4, 2020), Rosoboronexport has been paying specific attention to the promotion of air defense assets on the global market, and it is the Triumf that made up the biggest reported deal in the history of the company: in October 2018, Russia and India signed a contract for several S-400 kits worth some USD5 billion.

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