Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to raise Turkey’s interest in the Almaz-Antey S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system on his upcoming official visit to Russia, the Russian News Agency TASS reports.
The information came from a statement by Erdogan’s adviser, Ilnur Cevik, in an interview with television broadcaster Rossiya 24. Trade and energy cooperation will also be on the table.
Turkish officials have been touting the S-400 as an option for Turkey’s long-range SAM requirement, which appears to envisage the procurement of an off-the-shelf system as well as indigenous development.
As per the Daily Sabah, Turkey is also interested in procuring Russian technical assistance for its own long-range SAM program, which it initiated following the collapse of an HQ-9 purchase from China.
Notes & Comments:
For a S-400 deal to come to fruition, Moscow and Ankara will need to pacify Russian and NATO concerns over guarding technology secrets and mitigating potential vulnerabilities surrounding S-400 transfers to Turkey. Second, Turkey and Russia will need to agree to a mutually acceptable timetable, especially as there is a production backlog for China and India. However, Russia’s technical assistance may not be tied to the same issue, at least at the research and development level. Turkey could potentially acquire Russia’s technical assistance ahead of the S-400 SAM system.
The Turkish Undersecretariat for Defence Industries’ (SSM) also listed a requirement for short, medium and long-range SAM systems for the forthcoming TF-2000 air defence frigate program. With multiple SAM applications in the pipeline, the technical support opportunity for Almaz-Antey may be significant enough to mirror its earlier collaborative effort with South Korea, which resulted in the Cheongung.
That said, Turkey’s short and medium-range SAM programs have progressed considerably in recent years. In December, Roketsan successfully test-fired the medium-range HİSAR-O, which has a maximum range of 25 km. For the Turkish industry, the next set of objectives would involve both validating the design and adapting the HİSAR-series to commercially-standard vertical-launch systems (VLS), which could prepare it for naval use in Turkey and abroad.